Alfred Gantner (52) has had enough of saying no. The billionaire co-founder of the Zuger Partners Group has been decried as a naysayer since he founded the alliance Kompass / Europe with other business leaders last autumn. Their goal: to ground the framework agreement.
Since then, Gantner and fellow campaigners have come a little closer to their goal – in the Federal Council, but also in parts of parliament, people are preparing for failure.
“I would prefer clear fronts”
However, Gantner is not satisfied. “I would prefer clear fronts,” he says to Blick. He would have welcomed it if the contract had already been officially buried. “Now it’s just clear: no framework agreement will be signed in the next few months.”
But Gantner wants to use this time. For him the question arises whether one should still concentrate on renegotiating. “Or is it better to go forward and find sectoral solutions?” He asks.
The entrepreneur would prefer Switzerland to continue on its previous bilateral path with sector agreements, for example in the area of electricity. A plan that is also finding more friends again in the Federal Palace. The EU is confident that it will return to the negotiating table after a period of pouting.
Solutions in the next twelve months
Together with Autonomiesuisse, another EU-critical business association, Kompass / Europa has defined eight subject areas for which solutions are needed: electricity, research and education, technical barriers to trade, constitutional law, economic freedom, the future of Europe-Switzerland, worldwide freedom of trade as well as medical technology and health as reported by the SonntagsBlick.
The timetable is now clear: a task force is to propose solutions for each topic over the next twelve months. “We are ready to work out a plan B,” said Gantner. Not only business should be represented in the working groups, but also trade unions, politicians and researchers.
“It is not an anti-EU project”
The proposals should not always be limited to the relationship with the EU. In research and development, for example, one has to look beyond the European horizon. “When it comes to quantum computing, it’s better to look at Israel and the USA,” says Gantner. And in groups like economic freedom and constitutional law, it is more about initiating domestic reforms that increase competitiveness.
One thing is important for Gantner: “It’s not an anti-EU project. We live in the middle of Europe, the EU will always be central, ”he says. He even leaves a back door open: “If we come to the conclusion in the working groups that there are no good alternatives – then we just have to come back to the framework agreement. But first this overall consideration has to be made. “
The Federal Council needs three clarifications before it says yes to the framework agreement.
The Federal Council basically agrees with the framework agreement. In three areas, however, he calls for improvements:
- Wage protection: Brussels wants Switzerland to take over EU wage protection. Trade unions, but also employers, are fundamentally against it. They fear for the Swiss wage level.
- State aid: Subsidies and tax breaks are prohibited in the EU if they distort competition. This could also include, for example, the promotion of hydropower by the cantons. However, the billions in Corona aid packages have defused the problem.
- Union Citizens Directive: If Switzerland had to take it over, EU citizens in Switzerland could get social assistance more quickly. There is widespread opposition to this.