Federal Council agrees next steps in Switzerland–UK relations

Bern, 25.04.2018 - The Federal Council wishes to ensure that the existing mutual rights and obligations between Switzerland and the UK will continue to apply after the UK leaves the EU. In view of the EU-UK transition period, the Federal Council has, at its meeting on 25 April 2018,adjusted its Mind the Gap Strategy adopted in October 2016 and introduced the next steps to be taken.

The UK's approaching withdrawal from the EU also has consequences for Switzerland. At the moment, relations between Switzerland and the UK are regulated to a large extent by the Swiss-EU bilateral agreements. Replacement legal bases for Swiss-UK relations will now need to be found. The Federal Council wishes to ensure that the existing mutual rights and obligations will continue to apply after the UK leaves the EU, and to expand these rights and obligations if possible. In October 2016, it formulated a Mind the Gap Strategy and established an FDFA-led interdepartmental steering group to coordinate the work.

On 29 March 2017, the UK's formal notification of its intention to leave the EU marked the beginning of a two-year time frame in which to negotiate a withdrawal agreement. On 19 March 2018, the two parties agreed at political level to a transition phase between the UK's withdrawal and the entry into force of an arrangement governing future relations. The transition period is scheduled to end on 31 December 2020. Today, the Federal Council adjusted the Mind the Gap Strategy to incorporate this development. During the EU-UK transition period, the existing rights and obligations must also continue to apply to Swiss-UK relations. The Federal Council is continuing to monitor the ongoing withdrawal negotiations closely and make arrangements in view of the possible outcomes.

The transition phase agreed between the EU and the UK from the date of the UK's withdrawal provides a window for the negotiation of the future relationship between Switzerland and the UK. The aim of the Federal Council remains the creation of long-term legal security in future Swiss-UK relations, including after the transition period ending December 31, 2020. It will set out the modalities of its action to this end in due course.

The further steps decided today by the Federal Council in the lead-up to the UK's withdrawal from the EU on 29 March 2019 will be submitted for consultation to the foreign affairs parliamentary committees and the cantons by 20 August 2018.

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