Now that the Federal Council has broken off talks on the institutional agreement, a new situation has arisen in bilateral relations between Switzerland and the EU. The EFTA/EU delegation used its stay in Brussels to discuss the state of relations with a range of partners. Talks focused on how to stabilise bilateral cooperation and prevent a downward spiral despite the failure to reach an institutional agreement.
The central element of the visit was a working meeting with Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the EU Commission and Commissioner for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight. On 23 June 2021 Mr Šefčovič addressed the plenary session of the European Parliament on the future of bilateral relations between Switzerland and the EU on behalf of the European Commission.
In talks with Commissioner Šefčovič, the delegation stressed that both sides should now work towards de-escalation and refrain from involving unrelated issues. The delegation president, National Council member Eric Nussbaumer, pointed out that the Swiss parliament is likely to be able to make the second Swiss contribution to selected EU member states by the end of the year. In return, Switzerland would expect the EU to be more accommodating regarding Switzerland's participation in EU cooperation programmes. The delegation also expressed its support for the political dialogue between Switzerland and the EU proposed by the Federal Council and suggested that there could also be a parliamentary component.
During the working visit, the delegation also exchanged views with MEP Lukas Mandl (EPP, AT), who has been commissioned by the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee to draft a report on Switzerland-EU relations. Furthermore, the delegation met MEP Christel Schaldemose, member of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with Switzerland, and the United Kingdom's permanent representative in Brussels, Ambassador Lindsay Croisdale-Appleby.
The EFTA/EU delegation was represented in Brussels by its president Eric Nussbaumer (SP, BL), National Council members Thomas Aeschi (SVP, ZG) and Hans-Peter Portmann (FDP, ZH), and Council of States members Damian Müller (FDP, LU) and Carlo Sommaruga (SP, GE).
Carlo Sommaruga (SP, GE), Damian Müller (FDP, LU), Thomas Aeschi (SVP, ZG), Eric Nussbaumer, Vice-President of the EU Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Hans-Peter Portmann (FDP, ZH) (right to left) take a break from their discussions.
Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Interinstitutional Relations
© European Union
Formal discussions with representatives of the EU Commission
© European Union
The Swiss delegation with MEP Lukas Mandl, European Parliament rapporteur for Switzerland (fourth from left).