SonntagsBlick: Mr. Federal President, in Brussels you emphasized the differences between Switzerland and the EU. The EU Commission again stated that Switzerland could not exclude the EU Citizens Directive, wage protection or state aid from the text of the contract. Do you still believe that this framework agreement will ever be signed?
Guy Parmelin: The Federal Council has always said that it is ready to sign this framework agreement if there are satisfactory solutions to wage protection, the Union Citizens’ Directive and state aid. We have already made many concessions. Just think of the dynamic legal adoption or the dispute settlement mechanism with the involvement of the ECJ. On the three open points that I just mentioned, the positions are still far apart. We are now analyzing the situation and the Federal Council will then decide.
Is the Federal Council ultimately prepared to break off the negotiations and explain to the EU that the framework agreement has failed?
A negotiation always involves the risk of failure. But we’re not that far yet. Both sides now want to examine the starting position very carefully. This also includes consulting the parliamentary commissions and the cantons.
What is the time horizon to sign or bury the agreement: will the discussions go on for years?
Nobody in the European Union or in Switzerland wants to artificially prolong the negotiations. However, it is worth doing a thorough analysis after talking to the President of the EU Commission. Much is at stake. Europe is our most important partner. We have 120 bilateral agreements. We are in the middle of Europe. And we have a lot to offer the EU, just as it has a lot to offer us. After this analysis, the Federal Council will decide how to proceed.
Should the population ultimately decide on the agreement?
Yes, but only if the Federal Council is convinced that it can present an agreement that is good for Switzerland. This requires satisfactory solutions to the three open points.
Is the Federal Council working on alternatives in the event of ultimate failure – and what could these look like?
The Federal Council always thinks in alternatives. However, this discussion is premature.
So far one has spoken of technical talks, which were followed by political talks, i.e. negotiations. Who is negotiating with Brussels now? You as Federal President? Foreign Minister Cassis? Federal Councilor Karin Keller-Sutter, who is responsible for the UBRL? State Secretary Livia Leu?
Negotiations are conducted on a technical level. The federal councilors and heads of state have a different task: they provide the impetus for the negotiations and make the balance at the end. It is the same in this negotiation.