Switzerland-EU agreement may appear a big question

400It is politically impossible for neutral Switzerland to sign in the foreseeable future a new treaty binding it closer to the European Union despite pressure from Brussels, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said in a newspaper interview.

Maurer told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper on Friday that he didn’t think a new EU framework treaty was possible soon. “If we try it nonetheless, both sides will be under pressure and this will not lead to good negotiating results,” he said.

His remarks come after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made clear last year that progress on a treaty before mid-2018 was needed to ensure enhanced Swiss access to the single market continues.

”A framework treaty (with the EU) is not possible in the foreseeable future,“ Maurer said. ”If we try it nonetheless, both sides put themselves under pressure and this will not lead to good negotiating results.

Maurer’s comments come two days after new foreign affairs minister Ignazio Cassis told a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he was optimistic and that it should be possible to reach a deal before Brexit.

Last weekend, Swiss President Alain Berset also commented on the struggle to finalise negotiations on bilateral Swiss-EU accords.

Also at WEF, the EU Commissioner on Economic and Financial affairs, Pierre Moscovici, warned that countries on the EU’s tax evasion “grey list” - which includes Switzerland - would not be removed if they made promises they couldn’t keep.

The EU put Switzerland on this grey list in December 2017 along with 44 other countries which Brussels says are not doing enough to fight tax evasion. There is also a black list of tax havens, which the EU reduced by eightexternal link earlier this week.


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