Rathaus Basel, Bundesrat (Minister) Ignazio Cassis. Foto: TES.

Switzerland-European Union

The Thinktank Metrobasel organised a meeting on 25 August on the Swiss-European Union relationship and, in particular, the so-called Institutional Treaty (Rahmenabkommen/accord cadre).

The fresco in the main chamber of the city hall (symbolically) commemorates the accession of canton Basel to the Confederation (Eidgenossenschaft) in 1501.

The ambassador of the European Union, Petros Mavromichalis, stated that there was little room for concessions from the EU. The internal market and especially the free movement of persons are untouchable principles.

However, the Bundesrat (minister) Ignazio Cassis believed that the so-called Citizenship Directive (Unionsbürgerrichtlinie) and the transfer of sovereignty to the Court of Justice of the European Union were unacceptable.

Since 2004, the Citizenship Directive (Directive 2004/38/EC) has regulated European Union citizens’ free movement and residence.

There is particular disagreement about the applicability of social security for citizens of the European Union who are not working or just worked for a short period. 

In addition, Switzerland has great difficulty recognising the Court of Justice of the European Union as the highest legal authority. The country is not isolated from this perspective either.

The (former) presidents of the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) in Karsruhe also share concerns about the functioning of this Court: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (08.09.2008), Roman Herzog, Stoppt den europäischen Gerichtshof, idem Paul Kirchhof (30.06.2021) and Andreas Vosskuhle  in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 22.06.2021. 

Cassis stated that Switzerland is a sovereign country like the USA, Canada, China or Australia. These countries also have access to the internal market, and students, researchers and stock exchanges from these countries also have access to the EU.

Why should it be different for Switzerland, which always fulfils its (financial) obligations? Why is Switzerland suddenly denied access to several economic (electricity market, stock exchange) and research programmes (Horizont)?

The ambassador, however, believed that Switzerland has only three options: EU membership, the European Economic Area or the Institutional Treaty (Rahmenabkommen). To be continued.