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Switzerland-EU Relations. The Bilateral Way in a Fragilized Position

ContributorsSchwok, René
Published inEuropean Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 25, no. 2, p. 159-176
Publication date2020

Relations between Switzerland and the European Union are in bad shape and the Swiss are tearing each other apart on this issue. There are two major issues at stake. First, the Swiss government is dithering over whether or not to initial a new Institutional agreement with the European Union (EU), although it was finalized by the negotiators in November 2018. In the event of non-acceptance by Switzerland, the European Union has already announced retaliatory measures. Secondly, in September 2020, Swiss citizens will have to vote on a popular initiative to scrap the agreement on the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the EU. A positive vote would sound the death knell for the bilateral treaties between both entities as they are bound together by a guillotine clause. These difficulties between Switzerland and the EU are certainly not new. But two fresh developments have arisen. On the one hand, the support of the socialists and trade unionists for the bilateral way is waning. On the other hand, the European Union has become less flexible than it previously was. The worst should, logically, be avoided because the Swiss have always been a pragmatic people and solutions are relatively easy to find. But an accumulation of blunders, combined with misperceptions of the actual power relations, could prove fatal.

  • Relations Switzerland-EU
  • European Foreign Policy
  • External Relations of the EU
  • Free movement of persons in the EU
Citation (ISO format)
SCHWOK, René. Switzerland-EU Relations. The Bilateral Way in a Fragilized Position. In: European Foreign Affairs Review, 2020, vol. 25, n° 2, p. 159–176.
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Article (Published version)
  • PID : unige:152638
ISSN of the journal1384-6299

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