European Union is ‘new communism’ says Nigel Farage in 2013
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Following the breakdown of talks between the EU and Switzerland for a framework agreement earlier this year, relations between Bern and Brussels have been strained. The two sides had been in talks over a new framework that would replace the patchwork of treaties that govern Swiss access to European markets. But the Swiss Government walked out of talks on a closer trading relationship with the EU, as the country’s leaders said the terms would be rejected in a legally required referendum on a deal.
Both the Swiss government and the EU have rejected comparisons to Brexit. Some have described the potential fracturing of trade ties as a “Swexit”.
However, officials in Brussels said that Swiss suggestions, made since the walkout, that the country could align with some parts of EU law to maintain access to key sectors, were examples of “cherrypicking.”
Georg Riekeles, an associate director of the European Policy Centre think tank in Brussels, said the Swiss decision could prove expensive.
He said: “Many in Switzerland have failed to recognise that after Brexit their exorbitant privileges could no longer be.
“The consequences of their denunciation will now be felt rather immediately. Bit by bit, the economies will decouple at a cost to Switzerland estimated at up to €1.2billion (£1.03billion) per year.”
Laurent Goetschel, director of the think tank Swisspeace and professor of political science at the University of Basel offered his analysis on the talks.
He told Euronews: “The Swiss would want to be part of the EU economically but they don’t want to be part of the EU politically.”
However, the expert warned the EU could be “nastier” to Switzerland having already threatened cooperation in the health sector, labour market and over financial markets could suffer.
Mr Goetschel added: “The EU could also be nastier in other fields. So for example, they could prevent Switzerland from participating in the next Horizon research programme or allow it only under certain conditions that would be to the disadvantage of Switzerland.”
On a more positive note, Paolo Dardanelli, a reader in comparative politics at the University of Kent. said there was “still a lot of goodwill on the two sides to find a way forward”.
He added: “So I imagine this to an extent is also a bit of an act of brinkmanship on the part of Switzerland trying to signal to the EU that it doesn’t want to be pushed on these issues.”
Since 1992, when Switzerland rejected membership of the European Economic Area, the relationship between Brussels and Bern has been distant in comparison to other European countries.
Expert on European politics, Kevin Featherstone, told Express.co.uk earlier this month that Switzerland provides a warning for the UK for a “war of attrition” with Brussels.
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He said: “In a war of attrition it’s very hard to find your way to everlasting peace. The Swiss haven’t managed it.
“Over time the Swiss have become more anti-European and in the UK there are every prospect voters will remain badly divided, and many will feel the EU is being really, really difficult.
“The Swiss case is interesting as they started a little bit like us – no comprehensive agreement – that means we just have conflicts over individual issues.”
Mr Featherstone added the constant clashes between the UK and EU could see Britain become “more anti-European”.
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