Press releases, 21.06.2023

At its meeting on 21 June 2023, the Federal Council approved the parameters for a negotiating mandate with the EU. Discussions with the EU will continue on this basis, with a view to resolving any outstanding issues. If discussions with the EU and internal work continue to progress satisfactorily, the Federal Council will prepare for the adoption of a negotiating mandate by the end of the year.

Chart depicting the 11 elements of the Federal Council's package approach.
In the course of the current talks, Switzerland and the EU have reached a common understanding regarding the Federal Council's package approach. For more background and information on the talks, which started in March 2022, visit the news ticker here. © FDFA

The parameters approved today by the Federal Council constitute the guidelines for possible future negotiations and will serve as the basis for the preparation of a negotiating mandate. They set out the general objectives and the areas that need to be covered, as well as the specific objectives for each area. These parameters will be at the heart of any negotiations and are therefore confidential.

The Federal Council seeks to stabilise and develop relations with the EU. It aims to guarantee barrier-free access to the EU's single market in certain sectors. In addition to the five sectors already covered by agreements on single market participation (air transport, land transport, technical barriers to trade, agriculture and the free movement of persons), the Federal Council aims to add two further agreements on electricity and food safety.

Furthermore, with a view to developing relations with the EU, the Federal Council is seeking to conclude a cooperation agreement on health, as well as regular and full participation in future EU programmes (in particular the continuation of Horizon Europe and Erasmus). It also aims to swiftly resolve the impasse regarding Switzerland's participation in the Horizon-Europe 2021–27 research and innovation package.

The Federal Council is adopting a vertical approach by sector to settle institutional issues with the EU: the dynamic adoption of law developments and the settlement of disputes can be resolved pragmatically in each internal market agreement, whether old or new. As part of this approach, the Federal Council will negotiate exceptions and principles with the EU in order to safeguard Switzerland's essential interests.

The many discussions held at the technical, diplomatic and political level over the last 12 months show that such an approach in the interests of Switzerland is possible, providing greater legal certainty and predictability for individuals and businesses. This approach will stabilise and further develop Swiss-EU relations.

Alongside the discussions on exceptions and principles with the EU, within Switzerland the Federal Council will continue to discuss measures with the social partners and the cantons, so as to ensure that current levels of wage protection are maintained. Regarding state aid, it will adopt a balanced, sectoral approach, providing for the adoption of EU regulations limited to certain agreements on the single market. As regards the directive on the rights of EU citizens in connection with the free movement of persons, the Federal Council aims to minimise risk for the Swiss welfare system.

Finally, if the overall result is satisfactory, the Federal Council is prepared to consider a regular solidarity-based contribution to cohesion and stability in Europe, with the aim of meeting common challenges.

Next steps

Discussions with the EU have led to concrete progress in a number of areas. However, a number of questions remain unanswered, particularly as regards the practical arrangements for incorporating the new agreements into the negotiating package. The parameters approved today by the Federal Council provide a basis for resolving these pending issues.

The Federal Council has therefore instructed the FDFA, working with the EAER and the FDJP, to continue discussions with the EU in order to consolidate the common ground with a view to opening potential negotiations.

It has instructed DETEC (together with the EAER and FDFA) to enter into technical discussions with the EU with a view to pursuing negotiations on electricity.

The FDHA (together with the EAER and the FDFA) was instructed to  initiate technical discussions with the EU with a view to pursuing negotiations in the areas of food safety and health.

As regards wage protection, the Federal Council has instructed the EAER (together with the FDJP and the FDFA) to work with the social partners and the cantons at a technical level to examine the domestic measures that could guarantee the current level of wage protection in Switzerland.

Regarding immigration, the Federal Council has instructed the FDJP (together with the FDFA and the EAER) to clarify the issues still outstanding.

The FDFA, the EAER and the FDJP have also been mandated to begin drawing up a legal basis for a regular Swiss solidarity-based contribution to the EU, and to submit the main elements to the Federal Council.

In the autumn, the Federal Council will assess the results of this work. Depending on its assessment, it will decide whether to prepare for the adoption of a negotiating mandate by the end of the year.

Info sheet – Parameters(pdf, 320kb)
Info sheet – Package approach(pdf, 230kb)

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