Federal Council decides to prepare mandate for negotiations with EU
Bern, 08.11.2023 - At its meeting on 8 November 2023, the Federal Council reviewed the outcomes of internal discussions and the exploratory talks with the EU. On this basis, it decided to draw up a negotiating mandate. Before the end of the year, it will decide whether or not to adopt it and submit it to the foreign affairs committees (FACs) and the Conference of Cantonal Governments (CCG) for consultation.
Switzerland and the EU have conducted exploratory talks since April 2022 on all components of the package. The package includes new agreements on electricity, food safety and health, participation in EU programmes (in particular Horizon Europe), the resumption of dialogue on financial regulation and the establishment of structured political dialogue.
The package also provides for institutional solutions under existing agreements on single market participation, including the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, in order to ensure that they continue to operate in the long term. It also provides for the inclusion of state aid rules in the agreements on air transport, land transport and electricity, as well as Switzerland's regular contribution towards greater cohesion within the EU.
The latest round of exploratory talks with the EU took place on 27 October. The Federal Council has reviewed the results in light of the objectives set in February 2022 and the parameters of the negotiating mandate adopted on 21 June. The Federal Council is of the opinion that the exploratory talks have now concluded.
Along with exploring solutions with the EU, the Federal Council has continued discussions with the cantons, social partners and the business community in recent months, in particular regarding the free movement of persons, wage protection for posted workers and state aid. Many of these issues have been satisfactorily clarified, such as the fact that the public sector remains outside the scope of the negotiations. However, some questions still remain open.
The Federal Council notes that the results of the exploratory talks with the EU and the progress made on internal discussions now make it feasible to prepare a draft negotiating mandate. It has tasked the FDFA with preparing the draft in cooperation with the relevant departments. Today, it informed the European Commission of its decision.
The Federal Council has also instructed the EAER, together with the FDFA and the FDJP, to continue technical discussions with social partners and the cantons on internal measures regarding the safeguarding of current wage levels of posted workers in Switzerland.
DETEC, together with the EAER and the FDFA, has been instructed to initiate discussions with the electricity sector, the cantons and social partners on internal implementation measures concerning an electricity agreement.
With regard to overland transport, DETEC, together with the EAER and the FDFA, has also been instructed to continue discussions with social partners and the Swiss Federal Railways (the SBB) on international rail passenger services and state aid issues.
By the end of the year, the Federal Council will decide whether to adopt the draft negotiating mandate and submit it to the FACs and CCG for consultation. The Federal Council will continue to involve Parliament, the cantons, social partners, the business community and other main actors closely in the next stages of the process.
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