The Federal Council takes steps to re-launch discussions with the EU on Switzerland’s participation in EU programmes and market access

Bern, Press releases, 30.04.2014

The Federal Council wishes to re-launch negotiations and discussions on Switzerland’s participation in framework programmes and market access. To that end it approved a declaration envisaging a number of measures. These include a solution to the admission under quotas of Croatian citizens to the Swiss labour market. In addition, the Federal Council confirmed the enlargement contribution for Croatia.

The implementation of the planned measures should enable negotiations in various fields such as research, education, electricity and emissions trading to be resumed.

Today’s decisions demonstrate that the Federal Council is pursuing its strategy to push ahead with and coordinate current and future negotiations on various European policy dossiers to achieve the best possible outcome for Switzerland.

Research and electricity

If the discussion and negotiation process is resumed, appropriate solutions could emerge for Switzerland’s participation in the EU framework programmes in the fields of research and innovation and education, training, youth and sport, as well as in the area of film promotion (MEDIA) and culture.

Education, research and innovation (ERI) are key prerequisites for Switzerland’s competitiveness and stability, which is why international cooperation in these areas is afforded great importance. The multi-year framework programme, now known as Horizon 2020, is the EU’s main funding instrument in the field of research and innovation. Through participation in MEDIA the Swiss film industry would receive direct funding and benefit from being part of an international network.

Negotiations and discussions in various areas were suspended as the Federal Council was unable to sign the protocol extending the Agreement on the Free Movement of persons to Croatia in its original form following the adoption of the mass immigration initiative. The Federal Council has since been seeking a solution to prevent discrimination against Croatia.

Separate quotas for Croatia

The measures that have now been decided on are the result of discussions conducted by representatives of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Departments of Justice and Police (FDJP) with the EU and its member states, including Croatia.

Switzerland will grant Croatian nationals separate quotas as part of the admission to the Swiss labour market of third country nationals. These are the same quotas that would have been granted between the time of the signing of Protocol III and its implementation. These quotas were set under the negotiations on Protocol III and consist of 50 one-year category B permits and 450 short-term category L permits.

The Federal Council can introduce these quotas independently by means of an ordinance. The entry into force of the revised Ordinance on Admission, Period of Stay and Employment, necessary for the quotas, is planned for the 1 July 2014.

Switzerland will recognise Croatian vocational education and training diplomas which fall under the federal government’s area of competence by amending the relevant ordinances. These include diplomas in certain fields of healthcare, education, agriculture, sport and construction. The Federal Council has commissioned the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) to undertake the necessary amendments to the relevant ordinances by 1 July 2014.

Enlargement contribution

In addition, the Federal Council confirmed the CHF 45 million enlargement contribution for Croatia proposed in March 2013 and approved in a corresponding memorandum with the EU. In so doing the Federal Council wishes to treat Croatia in the same manner as other ‘new’ EU member states which have joined since 2004.

This contribution is a gesture of Switzerland’s solidarity and forms the basis for solid economic and political relations with Croatia as a new member state. However, the decision, as with previous EU enlargements, ultimately rests with parliament, which has to approve the necessary global credit.

Acquired rights remain

The Federal Council further noted that the acquired rights of citizens from EU and EFTA countries who live and work in Switzerland will remain due to Article 23 of the AFMP, even if the Agreement should be terminated. The same applies to Swiss citizens in the EU.

In addition, discussions will continue with representatives of the EU and its member states with a view to seeking a solution regarding the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons. This is in line with the global approach and decision of the Federal Council of 12 February 2014.

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