EU referendum to be held in 2016 or 2017… No, not that one!

Swiss President Didier Burkhalter has today announced that Swiss voters will be asked to vote on the future of their bilateral relationship with the EU “by the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017.”

There have been long-running negotiations over the Swiss-EU bilateral deals, with the EU keen on greater supranational oversight, but these talks gained more urgency in the wake of February’s referendum in which the Swiss electorate voted in favour of renegotiating rules on the free movement of persons.

The result stipulated that Switzerland will have to renegotiate its bilateral accord with the EU on free movement within three years or revoke it. This in turn could threaten Switzerland’s other bilateral agreements with the EU.

Last week, the EU told Switzerland that it was not prepared to negotiate quotas on free movement. In other words, in that choice between accommodating Swiss demands or playing hardball that we identified back in February, the EU has definitely opted for the latter approach. Interestingly, the decision not to negotiate was apparently reached by unanimity amongst EU governments, meaning that the UK opposed allowing the Swiss to ‘renegotiate’!

Lees verder op Open Europe