The meeting between members of the Swiss Federal Assembly and the European Parliament provided a first opportunity to discuss the new point of departure for bilateral relations between Switzerland and the EU since the Federal Council’s decision on 26 May not to sign the institutional agreement.
The meeting was also attended by Emmanuel Bichet, chief EU coordinator at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA, and Philipp Langer, head of EU framework programmes at the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI. In their statements, they explained the reasoning behind the Federal Council’s decision not to sign the institutional agreement, and set out how the political dialogue proposed by the Swiss side could be shaped and how the close cooperation in the area of education and research could be ensured in future. The European Commission was represented by Michael Karnitschnig, Director of Inter-institutional and External Relations at the General Secretariat of the European Commission.
Both delegations expressed their regret at the Federal Council’s decision to break off negotiations on the institutional agreement. The members of the two parliaments stressed the importance of close bilateral relations and called on the Federal Council and the European Commission to develop specific content with regard to the political dialogue proposed by the Swiss side as soon as possible. At the same time, ways should be found to continue the successful cooperation in areas of common interest, particularly with regard to Switzerland’s participation in the EU’s framework programmes in education, research and innovation.
The chair of the EFTA/EU Delegation, National Council member Eric Nussbaumer (SP, BL), and European Parliament member Andreas Schwab (EPP, Germany) adopted a joint declaration. On the Swiss side, such a declaration requires the approval of a majority of the delegation. A prior internal meeting was held at which the EFTA/EU Delegation voted in favour of adopting the declaration by 6 votes to 4.
The EFTA/EU Delegation was represented at the virtual meeting by its chair, National Council member Eric Nussbaumer (SP, BL), National Council members Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter (The Centre, BL), Thomas Aeschi (SVP, ZG), Hans-Peter Portmann (FDP, ZH) and Nicolas Walder (Grüne, GE), as well as by Council of States members Hannes Germann (SVP, SH) and Carlo Sommaruga (SP, GE).