Swiss to decide by end of year on negotiating position with EU

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland will decide its negotiating position by the end of the year for the next stage of talks to regulate its relationship with the European Union, the government said on Wednesday.

Bern and Brussels have been in exploratory talks since April 2022 on new ways to organise ties between non-EU member Switzerland and its biggest trading partner.

Relations suffered a major blow in 2021 when Switzerland ditched a 2018 treaty that would have replaced more than 100 bilateral agreements in place for decades.

The Swiss cabinet reviewed the outcome of the early stage talks on Wednesday and said the exploratory phase was now over and it was time to prepare a negotiating mandate.

“By the end of the year, the Federal Council will decide whether to adopt the draft negotiating mandate and submit it … for consultation,” the cabinet said, adding it had informed the European Commission of its decision.

The proposals includes new agreements on electricity, food safety and health, participation in EU programmes, particularly the Horizon Europe research project.

It also provides for solutions under existing agreements on single market participation, including the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons.

($1 = 0.8996 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)