Vindictive EU Commission cut off the medical supplies agreement with Switzerland.
After 7 years of negotiations, the Swiss tell the EU “Non, nein, no”
On Wednesday, the Swiss Federal Council unilaterally announced they were terminating the negotiations with the EU Commission on the EU-Swiss Institutional Framework Agreement — an over-arching trade and cooperation deal.
After seven years, it seems the Swiss have had enough of the EU’s unreasonable demands, despite the importance of a sound economic relationship between Switzerland and the EU. Switzerland is the EU’s 4th largest trading partner in goods after China, the U.S., and the United Kingdom.
What do the Vindictive EU Commission do? They immediately cut off the medical supplies agreement with Switzerland
True to the form of this current EU Commission led by German appointee Ursula von der Leyen, it acted instantly to punish the Swiss on Wednesday. In what will be seen globally as an extraordinary act of spite, the EU Commission followed up their statement about Switzerland’s termination of the trade talks with a statement announcing that medical devices could no longer be traded normally with the EU.
Today, the Commission has published a notice to stakeholders informing them that the mutual recognition and related trade facilitating effects for medical devices between the EU and Switzerland ceased to apply on 26 May.”
- EU Commission statement, 26 May 2021, immediately following Switzerland’s withdrawal from trade talks
EU threatens Swiss medical supplies, electricity, and flights
When it comes to medical devices in the middle of an EU Covid crisis, it might have been thought that this separate facilitation agreement with Switzerland could have been extended — even if only for six months. Instead, the EU Commission acted instantly and dis-applied it. This will not only make life difficult in Switzerland, but in many EU countries which buy medical devices from the Swiss.
In addition, the EU Commission suggested that Swiss electricity supplies from the EU might no longer be secure and that Swiss planes would no longer have the same access to EU destinations.
Where have we seen that threat before? Dare I say the islands of Jersey and Gurnsey where those islands told the French they are no longer welcome to fish in their waters unless they have the proper authorisation. What did the French do? They threatened to cut the electricity supply to those islands. and blockade the islands They soon backed down when the British sent in the Royal Navy to quietly monitor the situation with their DS30M Mark 2 30mm gun systems.
How much does Switzerland need the EU?
The EU is Switzerland’s largest trading partner by far
The EU accounts for 42% of Switzerland’s exports in goods and for 50% of its imports
[Source: EU Commission, figures for 2020]
How much does the EU need Switzerland?
Switzerland is the EU’s 4th largest trading partner in goods after China, the US, and the UK
Switzerland accounts for 6.9% of the EU’s exports and 5.7% of its imports
Switzerland is the EU’s 4th largest market for goods, 3rd for the EU’s services, 2nd for investment
Like the UK, Switzerland suffers a trade deficit with the EU in the order of tens of billions.
The Swiss statement terminating trade talks with the EU
Following the Federal Council’s meeting on 26 May held in the capital of Bern, the following statement was issued by the Swiss government
“The Federal Council undertook an overall evaluation of the outcome of the negotiations on the institutional framework agreement (InstA). It concluded that there remain substantial differences between Switzerland and the EU on key aspects of the agreement. The conditions are thus not met for the signing of the agreement.”
“The Federal Council today took the decision not to sign the agreement, and communicated this decision to the EU. This brings the negotiations on the draft of the InstA [EU deal] to a close.
The EU refused to budge on three main concerns of the Swiss
After seven years of negotiations, the Swiss realised that the EU Commission was going to remain intransigent, just as it did during the Brexit negotiations. There were three main areas of contention for the Swiss:-
- The EU’s insistence the Swiss adopt the Citizens’ Rights Directive with its free movement and state benefits
- Lack of wage protection for the Swiss people
- The EU’s insistence on a ‘Level Playing Field’, dynamic alignment, and its state aid rules
The negotiations with the EU regarding the Citizens’ Rights Directive (CRD), wage protection and state aid provisions did not produce the outcomes Switzerland needed to sign the agreement. Substantial differences remain, especially with regard to wage protection and the CRD.”
Statement by the Swiss government, 26 May 2020
If you thought the British are being badly treated by the EU, try being Swiss
With Swiss employment ratios, the UK would have 5.8m more jobs taken by EU workers.
25% of Swiss jobs are taken by EU citizens, and the EU insists on state benefits for them all.
The Swiss government has walked away from seven years of negotiations with the EU over an all-encompassing trade and cooperation agreement. The new agreement was intended to replace some 120 separate agreements governing relations between the EU27 countries and Switzerland. The EU Commission instantly reacted to the Swiss decision in a hostile fashion, cutting off the medical devices supply agreement with Switzerland (in the middle of the EU’s Covid crisis), and threatening Swiss electricity supplies and Swiss flights.
Switzerland is a neutral country surrounded on all sides by EU countries, with just one small border to the tiny non-EU principality of Liechtenstein.
EU’s insistence on the unimpeded movement of EU citizens into Switzerland was a big factor
On Wednesday the Swiss government said this about EU immigration:
“Adopting the CRD [the EU’s ‘Citizens’ Rights Directive’] in its entirety would effectively constitute a paradigm shift in Switzerland’s migration policy — a policy which enjoys wide support among the Swiss population and cantons…. The Federal Council intends to defend these vital interests.”
Does the following look familiar to British readers?
I researched the numbers of EU citizens in Switzerland and vice versa. The result shows a pattern that will be very familiar to British readers.
EU citizens represent 16.5% of the total Swiss population
Swiss population : 8,667,100
EU citizens : 1,430,197
[Source: Official Eurostat figures for 2020.]
EU citizens take a quarter of all jobs in Switzerland
When it comes to EU workers taking jobs in Switzerland, the figures are even starker.
Out of a total Swiss workforce of 5.1 million persons, just over 25% are EU citizens
1.28 million EU citizens work in Switzerland
343,809 of these are cross-border workers from the EU.
Over three times as many EU citizens live in Switzerland as vice versa
Once again the EU benefits far more from free movement than does the country it is negotiating with. According to the latest figures for 2020 (published May 2021) from the EU Commission’s ‘European External Action Service’ (EEAS), 1.4 million EU citizens live in Switzerland but only 400,000 Swiss live in the EU. Likewise in the UK, we now know from official figures that the UK is hosting far more EU27 citizens than the EU is hosting British people.
Switzerland also sees a massive number of EU citizens crossing its borders each day to work there. Over 340,000 people commute to Switzerland from the EU, and well over 200,000 persons from the EU/EFTA area register in Switzerland each year.
If the Swiss numbers were put into UK terms, what would they look like?
The UK’s population is almost eight times larger than Switzerland’s. When Switzerland’s proportions of EU27 residents and EU27 workers are put into UK terms, the results are startling.
Based on Switzerland’s proportions, the UK would look like this
UK population : 66,796,807
Equivalent EU citizens based on Swiss proportions : 11,022,440 (16.5%)
And the UK jobs market would look like this
UK workforce : 32,476,311
Equivalent EU citizens in UK jobs based on Swiss ratio : 8,119,078 (25.0%)
The latest figures from ONS (for 2019) show only 2.3 million EU citizens working in the UK, but we know it is much higher
[Source for UK data: Office for National Statistics]
The EU insisted on full workers’ rights and state benefits for EU citizens in Switzerland
One concern of the Swiss was the EU’s insistence that EU citizens should have rights to benefits in Switzerland. This is exactly what the UK Government agreed to in respect of the 5m+ EU27 citizens in the UK, as part of its Brexit deal.
The UK now has over 5.4 million EU citizens who have registered with the Home Office. (Latest figures, 30 Apr 2021.) This compares to the 2.9 million admitted to by the EU and the Remain campaign in 2016. All of these people — assuming they will all be approved) have rights to state benefits in the United Kingdom. On Wednesday the Swiss
A pattern is developing
It must now be a subject of concern for the leaders of EU member countries that the new EU Commission led by German appointee Ursula von der Leyen seems to trip up at every turn.
The Commission’s behaviour towards the UK since the Brexit vote has been distinctly hostile and it’s informative to see how the Swiss are being treated in the same way.
I feel the EU now risks a significant and permanent downturn in EU exports to the United Kingdom, as UK consumers turn to British and non-EU products, and indeed this is now starting to show in the monthly figures. The EU’s unhelpful attitude to the Northern Ireland Protocol — now clearly unfit for purpose and which contravenes the Good Friday Agreement — is yet another example of the EU’s aggressive attitude to a neighbouring country.
Now it’s the turn of the Swiss to face EU hostility
Now we have the peace-loving Swiss finally giving up on the Commission and instantly being punished over — of all things — medical supplies. The Commission has also threatened many other arrangements with Switzerland including electricity supplies and flights.
It’s no wonder the Swiss people are Eurosceptic, with support for joining the EU has fallen as low as 10% in recent polls.
Voters in EU27 countries cannot be fooled
Sooner or later I believe that EU citizens will start asking questions. One difficulty is the pro-EU nature of the majority of the media on the continent, but I have always argued that people aren’t idiots. Perhaps the truth is already dawning in some places.
Unlike others, I have never thought that either the EU’s or the Euro’s implosion was likely any time soon. That said, and as each year goes by and the problems mount, there may come a point when the peoples and the leaders of the EU27 countries decide that a fundamental restructuring is needed.
For me, it could never come soon enough. To have such an ideologically extreme, undemocratic, and hostile power directing operations on the European continent is not in the best interests of the United Kingdom (to say nothing of the EU countries themselves), no matter how much the UK pivots away and pursues alliances more globally.
[ Sources: Swiss Federal Council | EU Commission | EU’s ‘European External Action Service’ | Eurostat | Office for National Statistics | UK Home Office ]