On 11 December 2020, the European Union (EU) and Switzerland reached a political agreement on a new treaty meant to replace over 120 bilateral agreements between them. The new agreement is aimed at modernising the existing relationship between the two entities, promoting mutual trust and bringing clarity in their mutual dealings.
The existing bilateral agreements between the EU and Switzerland have been in force since the early 1970s, and they cover areas such as trade, transport, research, and many others. However, as the relationship between the EU and Switzerland has evolved over time, the existing agreements have become outdated and require a significant overhaul.
The new treaty aims to bring coherence to the existing agreements and to create a single framework that covers all aspects of the EU-Switzerland relationship. The treaty is expected to increase legal certainty and create a level playing field for businesses, by aligning existing regulations and reducing administrative burdens.
One of the most significant aspects of the new agreement is the establishment of a Joint Committee that will oversee its implementation. The Joint Committee will be responsible for resolving disputes that may arise between the two sides and monitoring the implementation of the treaty. Additionally, the Committee will provide a forum for regular consultations between the EU and Switzerland.
The new agreement also covers the area of state aid, which is a contentious issue between the EU and Switzerland. The agreement aims to bring the Swiss rules on state aid in line with those of the EU, thereby reducing the risk of unfair competition.
Another area of focus in the new treaty is the free movement of persons. While Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it is part of the Schengen Area, which allows for the free movement of people between Switzerland and the EU. The new agreement aims to strengthen the existing framework for the free movement of people, ensuring that it continues to function effectively.
While the new agreement is a significant step forward in the relationship between the EU and Switzerland, it still needs to be approved by both sides. The EU has already expressed its support for the treaty, but it is still unclear whether it will receive the necessary support in Switzerland. If the treaty is approved, it is expected to come into force in 2022.
In conclusion, the new agreement between the EU and Switzerland is an important development in their relationship. The treaty will bring clarity and coherence to the existing framework and promote mutual trust between the two entities. While the treaty still needs to be approved, it has the potential to create significant benefits for businesses and individuals in both the EU and Switzerland.