N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
EU politicians fight for the importance of their own position and the EU as an institution. A typical example for this is Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. Look at the heated argument between her and the country of Switzerland.
The mere fact that a country in the heart of Europe can be very prosperous without being a member of the European Union is a thorn in the side of ‘Brussels’. For instance, in the sector of biotech and pharma, Switzerland is, together with the United Kingdom, the top country in Europe. Both non-EU members.
A real offense for the EU is the high level of prosperity in Switzerland, including the low incomes. The Alp-country realises this by keeping the labour market closed for immigrants from low-wage countries and by limiting social benefits to the citizens of Switzerland. The system has the strong support of both employees and employers.
The Swiss are satisfied with the current series of treaties with the EU, which allow for instance tourists to travel freely and free trade between them. But the EU believes it can no longer done like this, and want a new agreement.
The biggest stumbling block in the negotiations is that Switzerland wants to continue protecting its own labour market and does not want to offer all EU citizens the same social benefits. That would put to an end the prosperity that the Swiss people have organised for their own citizens.
A thorn in the side of the EU is, that all commitments with Switzerland can be stopped by the population through a referendum. That looks like democracy! A comparison with the decision-making process in the EU is very painful for the latter.
The negotiations between Switzerland and the EU have been stopped. The EU takes revenge! For instance, a TGV railway project connecting Paris with Rome, reducing the number of flights, has been blocked by not allowing the Swiss railway company (SBB) to participate. A loss to the Swiss, loss to the EU and damage to climate and environment.
Citizens of the EU have no interest in bothering Switzerland, the European Commission has to stop doing so!