Trade Agreement EU Switzerland: A Comprehensive Overview
The European Union and Switzerland have had a long-standing relationship when it comes to trade. In 1972, Switzerland and the European Communities (now the European Union) signed a free trade agreement that was later replaced by the European Economic Area agreement in 1992. However, Switzerland never became a member of the European Union, which means it has its own trade agreements with the EU and other countries. In this article, we will explore the current state of the trade agreement between the European Union and Switzerland.
The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP)
The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) is a bilateral agreement that allows free movement of people between Switzerland and the European Union. This agreement is based on the principle of equal treatment, which means that Swiss citizens have the same rights as EU citizens and vice versa. This agreement covers the movement of workers, self-employed persons, students, and retirees. The AFMP also includes provisions on social security and the recognition of professional qualifications. It enables Swiss citizens to work and live in the EU and EU citizens to work and live in Switzerland.
The Bilateral Agreements
In addition to the AFMP, Switzerland has a set of bilateral agreements with the European Union that cover trade in goods, services, and investments. These agreements are based on the principle of mutual recognition, which means that products and services that comply with Swiss or EU regulations can be traded freely between the two parties. The bilateral agreements cover:
1. Free trade agreement on goods: This agreement eliminates tariffs on industrial and agricultural goods traded between Switzerland and the European Union. It also includes provisions on customs cooperation, technical barriers to trade, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
2. Agreement on the mutual recognition of conformity assessment: This agreement enables Swiss and EU companies to obtain certification and testing services in their own country and have them recognized in the other country, reducing technical barriers to trade.
3. Agreement on trade in services: This agreement covers the liberalization of trade in services, including financial services, telecommunications, and postal services. It also includes provisions on the temporary movement of workers for the provision of services.
4. Agreement on investments: This agreement provides protection for Swiss and EU investors and their investments in each other’s territory. It includes provisions on the expropriation of investments, compensation for losses, and the resolution of investment disputes.
Current Status of the Trade Agreement
The current trade agreement between the European Union and Switzerland remains in force, but it is not without its challenges. In 2014, Swiss voters approved a referendum that called for immigration quotas, which contradicted the AFMP. This led to a strain in the relationship between Switzerland and the European Union, and negotiations for a new framework agreement began in 2018. However, these negotiations have stalled, with the European Union insisting on Switzerland aligning with its regulations in several areas, including state aid, employment, and the free movement of workers.
The trade agreement between the European Union and Switzerland has been a crucial factor in their economic relationship. The AFMP and bilateral agreements have enabled the free movement of people, goods, and services between Switzerland and the European Union. However, the current relationship has its challenges, and negotiations for a new framework agreement have yet to be successful. The future of the trade agreement remains uncertain, but it is clear that both parties will need to find a way to work together to ensure ongoing economic cooperation.