Switzerland: Ueli Maurer explains Swiss reluctance in Vienna

Ueli Maurer explains Swiss reluctance in Vienna

Ueli Maurer this 11 January 2019 with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Image: Keystone

Speaking to the press with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, the President of the Confederation recalled that Switzerland and the EU are electing their parliaments this year.

"If we have the patience to examine (these issues) after the elections, with new people, that might not be a bad solution. From our point of view, there will never be anything good under pressure because we just need more time, "he said, referring to the ultimatum set by Brussels.

Brussels patient

The Federal Councilor UDC asked for understanding for the Helvetic decision-making system, which he compared to the rumination of cows. He acknowledged, however, that the patience of Brussels had been severely tested.

In mid-December, the European Commission extended the Swiss stock exchange equivalence by six months to give the Confederation time to decide how to proceed with the framework agreement. The Federal Council, for its part, launched an extensive consultation on the draft text. The government will take stock in the spring.

Majority not found

Refraining from talking about "renegotiation" - a term rejected by the EU - Mr Maurer stressed that "many questions have emerged" during the consultation. "We will have to talk about this reluctance," he said, because the result currently has no majority in Switzerland.

According to him, there is a risk of "broken dishes", if Brussels were to decide that the current project is "to take or leave".

The head of the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) also warned against pressure on the Swiss stock exchange. If the EU were not to recognize stock market equivalence, the risk would be great of plunging into an "economic war", he said.

"We must not fall into these dead ends," he added, regretting that there is currently no personal contact with Brussels.

Not comparable to Brexit

For his part, the Austrian President expressed both his country's support for the draft framework agreement and his understanding of the Swiss position. He pleaded for "a little patience", hoping that we can talk about the subject "early 2020". In the end, he noted, it is "not like Brexit" where, without solution, we find ourselves in a vacuum.

Asked by the APA news agency, Mr Van der Bellen "naturally regretted" Switzerland's refusal to become a member of the EU. He stressed, however, that Bern and Vienna shared the same positions on many issues, including climate issues.

Austrian President received late morning Ueli Maurer with military honors. The grand financier of the Confederation then met his Austrian counterpart Hartwig Löger, before a scheduled meeting with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. (Ps / nxp)

Created: 11.01.2019, 16h01

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