The EU, on the other hand, took it relatively calmly, regretted the decision and stressed the consequences that a rejection would have. Therefore, the May crisis was of great importance, but not on the scale of 1992, when the Swiss electorate rejected membership of the European Economic Area. He blocked the main road that awaited him, without really offering a safe alternative, paving the way for a turbulent and uncertain period of stalemate. However, little will change right away, as the Swiss reject future structures rather than the status quo. In addition, both sides now expect the other to take the first step. The above-mentioned erosion of bilateral law between Switzerland and the EU is also likely to have an impact on relations between Liechtenstein and Switzerland, as there will be less and less convergence between legal systems. For example, parallel marketing requirements are likely to increase if the bilateral agreement on technical barriers to trade is no longer supplemented, as is currently the case for medical devices. As a result, Swiss products can no longer be exported to the EU under the same non-bureaucratic conditions. As a result, Liechtenstein is under a stronger obligation to control the parallel marketing of goods and to ensure that unrecognized products are not exported to the other market. Significantly, the EU also recognised that the IFA would only cover five market access agreements, from transport to free movement. The 1972 bilateral free trade agreement remained taboo and both sides made only a declaration of political commitment to its future modernisation.
The EU could not concede more concessions. It is precisely because these sensitive subjects are not only in Switzerland that the EU cannot give Switzerland a free ticket. Equal treatment of all countries is important not only for the integrity of the internal market, but also for the political viability of the EU. If the EU granted non-members privileges that even members do not have, others could move towards withdrawal. The EU and Switzerland must find solutions within a common regulatory framework, not outside. Many in Switzerland did not realize that their exorbitant privileges over the European Union could not continue. The Swiss government`s recent withdrawal from negotiations on an EU framework agreement could restrict the country`s access to the single market and lead to a fundamental rethinking of its relations with the UNION. BRUSSELS – The Swiss government`s recent withdrawal from long-standing negotiations on a framework agreement with the European Union has triggered a deep crisis in bilateral relations. For the EU, the consequences are manageable: economic relations will erode, but the Union will continue.
For Switzerland, the consequences could be more dramatic. With Switzerland`s future access to the EU`s single market under threat, its walkout may now require Switzerland to overhaul its relationship with the bloc, which is almost as fundamental as that of the UK after the 2016 Brexit referendum. The proposals that will eventually arrive in Brussels will depend on the balance of power in Switzerland. By rejecting the IFA, the government seems to have moved closer to the conservative position and seems to have the support of the SVP and probably also that of a large part of the radicals. This indicates a populist refusal to admit that bilateralism is on the verge of disappearing. And an opinion poll suggests that just over half the population supports the government and what it has done. However, three fundamental problems will continue to pose problems for relations between Switzerland and the EU in the future if they are not resolved: first, Switzerland does not really know what it really wants in relation to the EU. The views of political actors and stakeholders are too entrenched and focus very narrowly on their interests.
This, combined with a lack of informed leadership, leads to a purely national and unrelated political discourse with the EU. Second, this solipsistic attitude leads to widespread ignorance of the EU and, consequently, of the EU`s “constitutional” limits and constraints. Third, it is not aware of the essential nature of the EU as a “community based on the rule of law”. Many in the Swiss discussion are therefore unaware that the conditions for a third country`s participation in the EU`s internal market are laid down by law. Switzerland, like the UK in the Brexit process, was essentially trying to negotiate on a political basis, demanding compromises, flexibility and pragmatism where the EU and its negotiating institutions could not legally grant them. It might be useful to consider these fundamental problems of mutual understanding before embarking on further negotiations, otherwise they too could be doomed to failure from the outset. It is therefore essential that Liechtenstein identify as soon as possible the areas in which there is a risk of regulatory differences. Secondly, in the sense of “forward-looking legislation”, the necessary changes must be prepared and implemented in a timely manner. While the Commission is using assertive tactics to roll back Switzerland`s rights in the new bilateral relations, Switzerland must now decide how to react. If Switzerland gives in to the Commission`s unilateral measure to reduce the MRA for medical devices, the country will renounce its rights under the MRA, WTO agreements and international law. Sending a signal of acceptance at that time could have far-reaching economic and political consequences for Switzerland.
Although the Commission`s current illegal behaviour concerns medical devices, the Commission could extend its illegal behaviour to nullify the market access rights of other Swiss products currently protected by the MRA and other bilateral treaties, and Switzerland would eventually have to give in to the EU`s obligation to sign an IFA. The European Commission`s unilateral behaviour clearly violates MRA, EU law and World Trade Organisation (WTO) law. The MRA is still in force and binding on both parties. Furthermore, the European Commission`s position, adopted on 26 May 2021 as part of an “informal communication to stakeholders”, has no legal basis in EU law. In addition, the Commission`s action violates several provisions of the WTO agreements. Moreover, a first example appeared immediately: the EU did not agree to transfer the renewed law on medical devices into its bilateral law with Switzerland. Mutual recognition and the associated trade-incremental effects ceased on the same day. .