The relationship between the European Union and Switzerland could fall apart if negotiations over the country’s place in the EU market fail, says European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic.
Talks of Switzerland binding more closely to the EU’s single market rules and a cap on their mutual agreements - which have gone on for 10 years - collapsed in May after stiff opposition from the Swiss.
“Should new negotiations not lead to success, the bilateral agreements that were still in force would gradually expire and make our relationship obsolete at some point,” said Mr Sefcovic in an interview published in Der Spiegel magazine.
Mr Sefcovic, who helps oversee EU-Swiss affairs, said Switzerland would have to assure the EU it will abide by its market rules if they are committed to new negotiations.
The European Union is requesting that Switzerland to agree align its laws with those of the EU, to a mechanism of settling disputes and regularl contributions to EU funds for poorer members countries.
“We urgently need to know from Switzerland whether it seriously wants to negotiate with us,” he said.
“We have to know what we want to talk about... so that it is clear that the discussion will not last 20 or 30 years.”
Economic ties between Switzerland and the EU are governed by over 100 agreements, which date back to 1972.
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