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Last chance meeting, hope of a release, hypothesis of a divorce, or even terminal failure. The various expressions flourish in recent days on the Swiss political scene to describe what will be, Friday April 23, the meeting of the year for Swiss diplomacy. The president in office of the Confederation, the Vaudois Guy Parmelin (UDC, right populist), is indeed expected in Brussels by the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, to evoke the framework agreement, in arrears since of many months.

What is it about ? Not a member of the EU, Switzerland has gradually taken over since the beginning of the 2000s almost all of the acquis communautaire – the rights and rules that govern states between them – after bilateral negotiations between the two parties. They resulted in 130 sectoral agreements governing the links between 500 million Europeans and eight million Swiss. Single market, freedom of movement, immigration, security, research …

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On almost all subjects, the Confederation has aligned itself with community practices. To take just two examples: it is part of the Schengen area and applies the Dublin agreements. It is not a member of the European Economic Area either, unlike Norway and Iceland. It therefore remains fully sovereign, at least in theory. This is Europe à la carte, the one the British dreamed of before the reality of “hard Brexit” took hold.

“Institutionalize the relationship”

But among the Twenty-Seven, we have long wanted to simplify things and eliminate the feeling, increasingly widespread, especially in the east of the continent, that Switzerland always gets by with butter and money. . In Eurocratic language, it was therefore appropriate “to institutionalize the relationship”. This is why arduous negotiations, which began in 2014, led in December 2018 to a global agreement, which would freeze once and for all the different interpretations of the famous “bilateral”, the name given in Switzerland to these treaties.

But immediately brought back to Bern by the negotiators two years ago, the text aroused suspicion. Then radio silence was established, the status quo taking the place of European strategy. Hence the feverish wait for the meeting on Friday. Will things finally move?

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Ursula Von der Leyen’s entourage points out that “The Commission would already be satisfied to understand what the Swiss want. Do they still support the framework agreement? “. The answer is anything but clear, because the Swiss government has not yet adopted the slightest opinion. “Until the Federal Council has something to say about this again, we are not giving any further details or making any further comments”government spokesman André Simonazzi replied on Monday to a question from the NZZ, large Zurich daily and organ of the liberal right. The latter is increasingly worried about the consequences for the Swiss economy of a possible breakdown in negotiations.

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