Following a consultation procedure during which a large majority of those consulted backed a second Swiss contribution, on 28 September the Federal Council approved the dispatch on a second contribution to a number of EU member states. The Federal Council intends to put Swiss expertise to use to reduce economic and social disparities in selected EU member states and to contribute to better management of migration flows. It is now up to Parliament to make a decision on the ad hoc framework credits.
In order to safeguard its prosperity in the long term, Switzerland depends on a secure, stable and prosperous Europe. It therefore has a vital interest in continuing to use its expertise to strengthen European cohesion and improve the management of migration flows. This second contribution will also enable Switzerland to strengthen and deepen its bilateral relations with partner countries and the EU as a whole – an objective whose importance the Federal Council has repeatedly emphasised.
Like the contribution to EU enlargement, Switzerland's second contribution will amount to just over CHF 1.3 billion over ten years. What is new about this contribution is that it will be divided into a framework credit for cohesion and a framework credit for migration. The programmes will pursue five goals:
- promote economic growth and social partnership, and reduce unemployment, especially among young people;
- manage migration flows, promote integration and strengthen public security;
- protect the environment and address climate change;
- strengthen health and social security systems;
- promote civic engagement and transparency.
The first two objectives cover two priority areas: vocational skills development and migration.
Broad agreement with the Federal Council's approach
The consultation procedure ran from 28 March to 4 July 2018. A large majority of those consulted were in favour of the contribution and the proposed focus on the two priority areas. However, a number of respondents stressed the need to make the decision on a second contribution conditional on a positive assessment of the overall relationship between Switzerland and the EU, and several expressly stated that a second Swiss contribution should only be granted if the EU recognises the equivalence of the Swiss stock exchange for an unlimited period.
On 4 July, the Federal Council took note of the progress made in the negotiations with the EU and confirmed the negotiating position it had set out in March. As this dispatch is submitted to Parliament, key issues remain outstanding with respect to the overall relationship between Switzerland and the EU, in particular the outcome of negotiations on an institutional agreement and on recognition of stock exchange equivalence, which the Federal Council considers essential. Nevertheless, the second Swiss contribution is an investment in European security, stability and prosperity and therefore in Switzerland's interests. The Federal Council has repeatedly stressed the importance of good cooperation with the EU and affirmed its desire to consolidate bilateral relations. It has consequently decided to move forward on this dossier by submitting this ad hoc dispatch to Parliament. If the expected results are not obtained, Parliament may want to reconsider the situation.
As part of its consideration of the framework credit on migration, on 28 September the Federal Council also adopted a dispatch concerning a revision of the Asylum Act. Newly introduced provisions should enable the Swiss government to conclude framework agreements with certain EU member states in order to implement planned asylum programmes. The aim of such programmes is to achieve greater efficiency in asylum and return procedures and to improve admission procedures for migrants seeking protection. The revision of the Asylum Act will also help support programmes to encourage persons residing illegally in EU partner countries to return to their home countries. The programmes carried out abroad aim to prevent irregular migration, both primary and secondary, to Switzerland.