After Four Years of Talks, a New Swiss-EU Treaty Could Be ‘Dead in the Water’

After Four Years of Talks, a New Swiss-EU Treaty Could Be ‘Dead in the Water’
Then-Federal President of Switzerland Doris Leuthard, right, talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Bern, Switzerland, Nov. 23, 2017 (AP photo by Peter Klaunzer).

The Swiss government last month balked at approving a new draft treaty it had negotiated with the European Union over the past four years, arguing that the deal required public consultation. The decision casts uncertainty on Switzerland’s relationship with the 28-member bloc, which is currently governed by a hodgepodge of over 100 separate agreements. The Swiss government now has until June to endorse the new treaty, but steep domestic opposition makes that difficult, if not impossible, says Clive Church, emeritus professor of European studies at the University of Kent in England. In an email interview with WPR, he discusses the contentious negotiations and why the two sides may ultimately not be able to reconcile their differences.

World Politics Review: Why did Swiss and EU authorities decide it was necessary to craft a new treaty governing relations between them?

Clive Church: The impetus really came from the EU, which decided in 2008 that the existing bilateral system with Switzerland was outdated, inflexible and hard to manage, while also lacking legal certainty and a proper means of resolving disputes. After the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, officials in Brussels probably also felt they should sort out their relations with non-EU neighbors.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.