Draft agreement Switzerland-EU uncertain due to ‘Brexit envy’
Now that a Brexit agreement has been reached, envy is rearing its ugly head among Swiss politicians. This envy is not only rooted in reluctance towards the European Court of Justice or having to accept EU rules. It also comes from the fact that for some time now many Swiss believe that the current bilateral agreements are detrimental to their sovereignty.
Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but has entered into 120 bilateral agreements with it – on access to the European internal market, academic research, police cooperation and much more. The Swiss know that they have a much closer relationship with the EU than the United Kingdom. And enjoy far more access to the internal market. But still they continue to vent their envy. For weeks now, Swiss newspapers and talk shows have dealt with little else. A term for this emotion has even been coined: Brexit envy.
This envy is not only rooted in reluctance towards the European Court of Justice, or the obligation to accept EU rules. It also comes from the fact that for some time now many Swiss believe that the current bilateral agreements are detrimental to their sovereignty.
Christa Tobler, Professor of European Law in Basel and Leiden, says that politicians such as Köppel are comparing ‘apples and pears. The British are in a completely different position. They are distancing themselves from the EU and barely participate in the internal market. The service sector accounts for 80 percent of the British economy, and falls outside the Brexit agreement. Switzerland participates on the internal market in all sorts of areas and wants to gain even more access’.
Switzerland is a kind of semi-Member State. It respects the free movement of persons and is part of Schengen. Therefore according to Tobler, it is logical that Switzerland keeps to the rules more than the UK. And that the European Court of Justice is authorised to deal with disputes between Bern and Brussels: these are often issues concerning the internal market.