Wed. Jun 19th, 2024
Brussels, 16 March 2023

Good afternoon, as my visit to Switzerland – the first one in my current capacity – is drawing to a close, I am glad to share with you a few of my impressions.

Let me begin by expressing my appreciation for your country’s hospitality and warm welcome. This goes particularly to my counterpart, Federal Councillor and Foreign Affairs Minister, Ignazio Cassis, as well as the University of Fribourg.

These past two days have been informative and enriching – thanks to the valuable exchanges with Minister Cassis, the Members of the two chambers of Parliament, the delegation of cantons, and with the social partners.

As I said in my speech yesterday, we have an opportunity to jointly upgrade, modernise, and future-proof the EU-Swiss relationship – and to do it in a way that reflects Switzerland’s deep integration into the EU’s Single Market.

Therefore, I have come here in a spirit of genuine engagement to support the momentum, created over the past year by our ongoing exploratory talks.

What I mean by that:

  • During these exploratory talks, we have achieved some progress in the form of a better shared understanding on a number of issues because both sides have moved towards each other.
  • Several sensitive points remain open, and much work remains to be done towards finding a common understanding on all structural issues, namely a level playing field on the EU Single Market.

So, I will go home with the following takeaways:

  • First, I see the will on both sides to narrow the remaining gaps through the exploratory talks at both technical and political level.
  • Second, our experts will therefore follow up on our exchanges here and our negotiators will take stock on 20 April.
  • Third, we need to keep moving in the right direction, maintain the pace, and perhaps, even move into a higher gear – in order to determine whether we have the solid foundation to move forward into full negotiations with the prospect of a swift, successful conclusion.

I am convinced this task is doable, with political will on both sides. And if we succeed, this in turn will lead to us unlocking the full potential of our cooperation, including in other areas.

Let me conclude by underlining that the structural issues at hand are far from theoretical.

  • These are real issues that matter to workers and economic operators on the Single Market.
  • And these are at heart of the integrity, functioning and fairness of our Single Market, access to which comes with both rights and obligations.

As is well known, out of ten European regions benefitting most from their participation in the Single Market, seven are in Switzerland.

Moreover, the new geopolitical reality agrees with us – whether it is the return of war on European soil, the assertive economic policies of other global actors, the unprecedented transformation in the face of the climate emergency or the digital revolution.

So, once again, un grand merci, vielen Dank, grazie mille, grazia, to all my interlocutors – and I am happy to take your questions.

Source – EU Commission

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