Yesterday, the Swiss Senate voted to withdraw its EU application from 1992 and their Foreign Minister made clear that they would “modernise its bilateral relationship” with the EU.
Parliament has voted to withdraw Switzerland’s dormant application to join the European Union.
The Senate voted on Wednesday to approve a motion from the House of Representatives that essentially calls the old application meaningless. It now falls to the cabinet to communicate this to the EU.
Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said the cabinet would convey the message that Switzerland’s application for EU membership is invalid and should be withdrawn. At the same time, they’ll have to reiterate Switzerland’s determination to modernise its bilateral relationship.
So, what is going on ? Why, after 24 years have the Swiss decided to formally withdraw this dormant EU application ?
Perhaps, this article from last week in the German Die Zeit may help explain things – apologies for the poor translation but you’ll get the gist.
The Swiss even shared the same national anthem. “Hail, Helvetia”, sing the Swiss lustily. On party days, internationals, on August 1, combines the flickering bonfires. The melody said: God save the Queen, the British national anthem . Only in 1961 Switzerland receives its own psalm. Since then “the morning skies” contact the Confederates in a slow rhythm. The queen is silent.
The borrowed anthem is an anecdote certainly, but much more: it shows what Switzerland and the UK connects. The remembrance. The ghost. The political culture. These special relations exist today, since the British vote in two weeks on the withdrawal from the European Union.
In all other European countries, fearing the political establishment before the exit Day. Only right-wing populist and notorious EU phobics hope for the great quake on the island. Unlike in Switzerland, here ogling politicians from left to right with the Proposed referendum on United Kingdom membership of the European Union . Open and public.
A former National Green said: The withdrawal from the EU from Britain would “strengthen Swiss position with respect to the bilateral and regulating the movement of persons crucial”.
A former foreign minister would certainly vote against a Proposed referendum on United Kingdom membership of the European Union, if they could. Nevertheless, it promises to be much of a United Kingdom, which is outside the Union – and is located together with the Confederation in the Efta: “The UK in this ‘second circle’ of European countries would be more interesting for Switzerland as the current status quo.”
An FDP National weibelt already for this “Super-Efta” in Brussels and London. While the president of the CVP stirs hope among his flock: “Even the discussion of the Proposed referendum on United Kingdom membership of the European Union is an opportunity.”
Chance, so luck, do the Swiss. Your relationship with the EU is on the rocks, since they have accepted the mass immigration initiative two years ago. Until February 9, 2017, the petition must be implemented. Must immigration be controlled again in Bern. With quotas, maximum figures, with a national priority. It says so in the Constitution. But such an Article 121a bites with the bilateral agreements.
So, why now ?
Simple – because the Swiss see Brexit as a big opportunity to join forces with the UK and negotiate better terms with the EU. Better controls on immigration, and a smaller contribution to the EU coffers.
The Swiss are sending a clear message to the people of Great Britain – ‘Vote to Leave, and we’ll stand with you.’