Switzerland-EU: franchising is a duty

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A reliable and lasting partnership is not a permanent soup of the face. In Brussels, where he is to meet this Friday with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the politician rooted in the field that is Guy Parmelin must have this evidence in mind. The more Switzerland gives the impression of playing the clock by providing half-answers or hazy silences to community interlocutors demonized in Helvetia, the more acrimony sets in and disguises the real issues: namely the quality of the economic link between the Confederation and this great European neighbor to which our national destiny is in any case linked.

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A reliable partnership requires above all to measure, in complete transparency, what still separates the protagonists. For a framework agreement to hold between Switzerland and the European Union, the respective interests in concluding it must be sufficiently strong and perceived as fair. To move towards such a scenario, the negotiators must also be able, in the secrecy of their conversations, to abandon their political postures. Guy Parmelin is, therefore, expected in this register of the franchise, that the doubts sown by the repeated flip-flops of Ignazio Cassis have turned into minefield. Any commitment to continue institutional negotiations must be mutual, publicly assumed by both parties and materialized through reciprocal concessions. This is what the EU says today it expects.

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Finally, it is impossible to say that we are still partners without scanning the horizon together. The European Community architecture is today, in the world, the most respectful of national differences. The Union of 27 which encircles Switzerland offers unique democratic guarantees. The divorce of the United Kingdom, a powerful island country still firmly anchored to the EU, has not fragmented its unity, contrary to the hopes of sovereignists of all stripes. This partner, this overly bureaucratic and legal Union, endlessly shaken up but for the time being without any alternative, offers Switzerland unparalleled commercial, geopolitical and military stability.

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At a time of the pandemic and health challenges on a continental scale, the Federal Council cannot continue to come to Brussels to play eternal extensions, denying these obvious facts and exhausting its best diplomats in the process. Saying no is always possible. Pushing back the deadlines can be justified. But the first duty vis-à-vis this essential partner that is the EU is, at least, to be honest about Swiss intentions. And to speak to him truthfully.

Finally read: Switzerland-EU: little story of a major institutional disagreement