EU ambassador to Switzerland says treaty talks finished

"When you assume that a company is criminal just because it isn't Swiss, that's rather insulting," said Petros Mavromichalis. [Dmitry Djouce / Flickr]

The European Union will not reopen parts of a stalled bilateral treaty with Switzerland, the EU ambassador to the Alpine republic said in an interview with newspaper Blick, taking a hard line on Swiss misgivings over talks that have lasted years.

“What we won’t do is reopen the controversial dossiers,” Petros Mavromichalis told the Swiss newspaper. “The negotiations are done.”

Switzerland has said in the past it seeks clarifications on issues including state aid, EU citizens’ access to Swiss welfare benefits and unilateral Swiss rules designed to protect the country’s high-wage labour market from competition from cross-border workers.

Mavromichalis said Swiss demands including requiring companies from the European Union to register their intent to work in Switzerland eight days in advance are unacceptable, saying a four-day registration rule is sufficient.

“Four days are long enough,” he said, adding that a requirement that EU companies also pay a deposit before working in Switzerland to cover prospective financial penalties for breaking work rules is out of the question.

“When you assume that a company is criminal just because it isn’t Swiss, that’s rather insulting,” Mavromichalis told Blick.

The unresolved treaty would formalise ties in five areas – free movement of people, civil aviation, land transport, mutual recognition of industrial standards and processed farm goods. Switzerland would agree to take on EU single market rules in these areas.

It has been long delayed on opposition from right-wing Euroskeptics who oppose immigration from the bloc, as well as labour unions wary of any deal that could allow wage dumping by companies based beyond high-cost Switzerland.

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