The Swiss European Movement wants to force the Federal Council to negotiate with the EU.

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The Swiss European Movement wants to force the Federal Council to start negotiations with the EU immediately

The Europe dossier is simply not moving forward. Operation Libero and the Greens are putting pressure on with their European initiative. The Swiss European Movement is now taking a faster route.

SP National Councilor Eric Nussbaumer, President of the European Movement Switzerland (formerly Nebs).

Image: Keystone (Berne, November 27, 2021)

How can Switzerland get back to regulated relations with the EU as quickly as possible? That is the central question that worries the pro-European camp.

It is becoming increasingly clear that since the Federal Council broke off negotiations on the framework agreement, the bilateral agreements have been eroding. The government’s exploratory talks with the EU Commission are not making any headway – and the Bundesrat seems haphazard.

The core of the European initiative is an institutional solution

Three political groups are now putting pressure on the government – with two recipes. First, there is Operation Libero and the Greens. They are taking the path of popular rights and presenting the text of their European initiative in the media center in Bern on Tuesday. She wants to anchor the subject of Europe in the federal constitution.

“The aim of the initiative is: We want an institutional solution,” says Sanija Ameti, co-president of Operation Libero. “This should allow old agreements to be updated and new agreements to be concluded.”

The Federal Council should start negotiations with the EU immediately

Secondly, the Swiss European Movement (formerly Nebs) is now getting involved in the discussion. She chooses the parliamentary way. It has developed its own solution via a federal resolution – a resolution of the Federal Assembly without legal effect. She wants to get the Federal Council to “request the EU immediately to start negotiations,” says President Eric Nussbaumer, who is also a member of the SP National Council.

The draft of the federal decree is available to CH Media. It consists of three articles. The first confirms the Federal Council’s legislative goal of September 21, 2020: “Switzerland has regulated relations with the EU.” Article two formulates Switzerland’s efforts to conclude association agreements for sectoral participation in the EU internal market. And states that Switzerland regulates the institutional issues with the EU.

Article three says: “The Federal Council shall immediately request the European Union to start negotiations.” He also emphasizes that priority should be given to Switzerland’s association as a third country in the EU programs Horizon Europe, Erasmus+ and Digital Europe.

“It must now finally be clear what Switzerland wants in terms of European policy. The Federal Council needs a clear mandate from the Federal Assembly,” says President Nussbaumer. “With the federal decree, we can issue it in less than a year. There is no need for a detour via a popular initiative, which would take years.”

The European initiative takes five years

One thing is clear: the European initiative of Operation Libero and the Greens would be voted on in five years at the earliest. The collection period is 18 months. The Federal Council must then discuss the initiative within a year, and Parliament within two and a half years.

The Swiss European Movement bases its action on a decision by the National Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee (APK) on Tuesday. In a committee motion, the APK calls on the Federal Council to also adopt the draft of a federal decree with the publication of the Europe report.

The Europe report is overdue. He should give answers to political advances in the relationship with the EU. Parliament could redesign the draft of a federal decree as it sees fit.

Parliament wants to force it to be able to take a formal position on the next steps in European politics. This has not been possible for him since the framework agreement was broken off. The mood is correspondingly bad. The two commissions have the impression that they are being fobbed off by the Federal Council with information at the level of media releases.

Operation Libero relies on European law

For Sanija Ameti, co-president of Operation Libero, it is clear: “We welcome every initiative by Parliament that brings with it a binding solution to the institutional question.” With the federal decision, however, the question arises as to how “handy” it is. “The indicator for this is our initiative text.”

Sanija Ameti, Co-President of Operation Libero.

Sanija Ameti, Co-President of Operation Libero.

Image: Keystone (Berne, March 29, 2022)

Above all, Ameti relies on the European law, which the APK of the National Council demands in a parliamentary initiative. It is intended to clarify “the institutional rules for the continuation and facilitation of relations with the EU”. The National Council approved the law by 127 votes to 58 – with seven abstentions. At the moment, the parliamentary initiative lies with the APK of the Council of States.

“The wait for Godot has no end,” criticizes Sanija Ameti. Of course, it is already clear why the government does not want to take any action. “The Federal Council and government parties face a crucial test as soon as they have to comment on a binding institutional solution.”

Operation Libero and the Greens will not formally launch the European initiative until the end of the year. Nevertheless, they make the text public on Tuesday. “It should serve as a guide to what a European law must do,” says Ameti. “If Parliament rejects the European law, we will take the next step forward with our initiative.”

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