Switzerland is facing growing tensions with the European Union (EU) as Swiss trade unions raise concerns over the direction of their discussions with the EU.
The Swiss Association of Trade Unions (USS) and Travail.Suisse held a press conference in Berne to express their deep worries about the ongoing negotiations and to urge the Federal Council to protect Swiss interests.
The primary concerns of the trade unions revolve around wage protection and preserving public services. They fear that the talks with the European Commission may lead to a shift towards liberalisation.
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In these preliminary discussions, the federal administration reportedly agreed to reduce wage protection and weaken public services, a move vehemently opposed by the unions.
Furthermore, foreign workers in Switzerland may no longer receive reimbursements at the Swiss standard level, which is causing concern.
Switzerland is now bracing for a challenging period in its relationship with the EU, as tensions continue to rise. The country accused the EU of discrimination against Swiss citizens in a recent press release, citing issues affecting Swiss nationals in individual EU member states. These issues include property acquisition restrictions in Finland and payment disparities for pensioners in Germany.
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Switzerland’s recent actions are seen as an attempt to gain leverage in negotiations with the EU.
The EU, on the other hand, has expressed concerns about Swiss wage protection measures and laid out other demands, including the role of the European Court of Justice, cohesion payments, and the adoption of legislation.
The Swiss government’s strategy remains unclear, but it is working on interim solutions to address the consequences of the strained Swiss-EU relationship, such as allocating funds for research as an alternative to Horizon Europe. If a return to Horizon Europe is not possible in 2024, Switzerland will explore further interim solutions.
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