Federal Council enhances structure for negotiations with EU

Bern, 12.08.2015 - The Federal Council has established a structure for the overall conduct of its negotiations with the European Union, under the direction of State Secretary Jacques de Watteville. The chief negotiator is responsible for ensuring an overall outcome of negotiations that corresponds to the objectives set out in the existing mandates. Mr de Watteville will remain attached to the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) but will report to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in this new capacity. He will keep the whole of the Federal Council regularly informed.

On 24 June the Federal Council reasserted its general objective of ensuring greater control over migration and bringing the bilateral approach up to date. In order to increase the chances of achieving an overall outcome that is balanced and clearly in the interests of Switzerland, it also mandated the FDFA to propose a strengthening of the negotiating structure.

Accordingly, the Federal Council has decided to establish a structure for the overall conduct of negotiations, focusing in particular on the free movement of persons, institutional issues, market access agreements, new or expanded cooperation (in research, education, culture, etc.) and the question of renewing the enlargement contribution.

Mr de Watteville will be responsible for coordinating the negotiations and ensuring an overall outcome based on the Federal Council's strategy. In particular, in consultation with the other responsible negotiators he will develop various options and determine the timing, the sequence and the conditions for the conduct and conclusion of the various negotiations. He will be supported by a negotiation and coordination team which he himself will appoint, taking into account the interests of the departments concerned. The actual negotiations on each of the dossiers will remain the responsibility of the departments concerned.

In his role as chief negotiator Mr de Watteville will report directly to the FDFA and will keep the whole of the Federal Council regularly informed. In addition, he will be involved in Dialogue Europe, a platform for exchange with the cantons (composed of the heads of the FDFA and the EAER, and cantonal councillors representing the Conference of the Cantonal Governments of Switzerland), and will likewise keep the social partners and associations concerned informed.

Mr de Watteville will continue to fulfil his responsibilities at the FDF. 

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