Swiss government resists calls for restarting payments to EU
The Swiss parliament has resisted calls from some within the government to restart payments to the EU, delaying discussions to the last minute.
Switzerland has not paid the European Union after talks broke down
The Council of States, the upper house in the Swiss government, has resisted calls to restart EU cohesion payments. The current bill has been blocked for over a year after Switzerland pulled out of talks with Brussels over a unifying deal on Swiss-EU relations. As part of the old negotiations, the Swiss had agreed to pay 1,3 billion Swiss francs over 10 years to the EU, financing projects across the bloc in exchange for access to EU programmes.
Despite the upper and lower houses reaching an agreement on continuing these payments after talks broke down, the Federal Council stopped paying the money after the EU did not recognise the SIX Swiss Stock Exchange. Many within the Swiss government saw this as “retaliation” for pulling out of talks.
Swiss payments to EU unlikely to start until winter
Councillor of States Carlo Sommaruga filed a motion on Tuesday, asking the government to move discussions on the payments forward so that negotiations with the EU could resume as quickly as possible. He said that the current timetable, which would only see discussions resume on the penultimate day of both chambers being in session, was too late to agree on anything before the winter.
His motion was rejected by the Council by 30 votes to 14, meaning that the current timetable stands. It is feared that the government will not have enough time to agree to restart payments before the next session in the winter. It was hoped that payments could resume earlier, especially among Swiss universities, who wanted the deal done so that students in Switzerland could benefit from EU scholarshipsand lower tuition fees.