Majority of Swiss in favour of bilateral treaty with EU

Majority of Swiss in favour of bilateral treaty with EU

Brussels (Brussels Morning) A majority of Swiss voters remain in favour of their country reaching a bilateral treaty with the EU, despite years of tense negotiations and opposition by far-right and left-wing parties, Reuters reported.

According to a poll commissioned by NZZ am Sonntag, only 24% of the 2,000 polled voters would oppose such a deal, while 64% declared themselves to be in favour of the treaty.

Some 49% responded they were “rather in favour”, with another 15% saying they would fully support the deal. Conversely, some 19% said they were “rather opposed”, and only 13% were “fully against”. Some 4% remain undecided.

Stalled talks

The treaty talks stalled late last month, reportedly over the differences on how to interpret the free movement provisions. The EU wishes to secure free movement to Switzerland for all of its citizens, while the Swiss have traditionally restricted immigration access to those that either work in Switzerland or have enough funds to support themselves.

The latest poll mirrors last year’s annual poll, which reported the same percentage of citizens in favour of a deal — 64% — despite increasing opposition by several Swiss parties, including the far-right SVP.

Close relationship

Despite not being a part of the bloc, Switzerland enjoys a close relationship with the EU, but these ties are complicated — relying on more than 100 bilateral agreements signed since 1972. As EU regulations change and evolve, Bern and Brussels need to keep making new bilateral treaties to maintain the same level of mutual benefits.

Failing to reach a new treaty would, for instance, prevent Switzerland from new forms of access to the EU single market, such as the electricity union, while a number of existing treaties will gradually erode over time.