Sefcovic weaves for understanding – and remains firm at the same time

Sefcovic weaves for understanding – and remains firm at the same time



According to his own statements, EU Vice President Maros Sefcovic traveled to Switzerland with two goals. On the one hand he wanted to hear the concerns directly from those affected, on the other hand he wanted to clarify sensitive issues for the EU. This should create mutual understanding.

Accordingly, he took the opportunity on Thursday morning during the talks with the social partners and was able to explain that a lot had happened recently at EU level “and that we too are fighting for the highest possible social standards”. The Vice President of the EU Commission said this to the media.

Sefcovic and Cassis at the table.  They seem to like each other.  There is a bouquet of flowers there, EU and Swiss flags.

Legend: Maros Sefcovic (left) met Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis on Wednesday. KEYSTONE/Peter Schneider

In discussions with the cantons, he was also able to show how many steps the EU had taken towards Switzerland. Sefcovic mentions, for example, that the EU accepts Switzerland’s “vertical approach”, i.e. that institutional issues are recorded in the individual agreements.

At the ECJ, the EU remains tough

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Assessment by EU correspondent Andreas Reich: “Maros Sefcovic had one piece of news in particular on his trip to Switzerland. The EU Commission wants to conclude negotiations on future relations with Switzerland by summer 2024. A very ambitious goal.

Because despite – according to Sefcovic – the “excellent atmosphere” at the fondue with Federal Councilor Cassis, the EU still shows no willingness to compromise on a crucial issue: If Switzerland wants to continue to participate in the European internal market, it will also have to apply EU law in many areas. For the EU it is clear that only the European Court of Justice can decide on this in the final instance.

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This principle is sacrosanct in Brussels. The EU also stuck to this in the negotiations with Great Britain on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. And there are currently no signs that she will change her line in the case of Switzerland.”

However, the EU Commission had emphasized from the outset that, despite everything, there had to be a connection between the agreements. What this looks like exactly is not clear.

Sefcovic also emphasized to the media that he felt the will to find a solution in all his interlocutors. One must now use this “positive momentum” and try to end the exploratory talks as quickly as possible.

Political dribbling

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Assessment of SRF domestic editor Matthias Strasser: “Brussels has been pressing on Switzerland for a long time: the EU wants a solution to the institutional issues and has suspended the updating of existing agreements, among other things. Switzerland, on the other hand, is hoping for an unblocking of research cooperation and new possibilities, for example in the area of ​​electricity supply.

In autumn, Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis reacted reluctantly to the request for a meeting at the highest political level. With his lecture at the University of Freiburg, Maros Sefcovic has now taken the initiative and successfully combined well into the opposing half. “Skillful”, as some in the Federal Palace attested. In Bern, Sefcovic met all the important people involved in the EU dossier. That made an impression, even on the opponent. Opponents of a quick agreement feared that with the numerous talks in Switzerland, the players involved would also be played off against each other.

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Countable successes have not yet become known, apart from the fact that talks at Federal Council level took place at all. Sefcovic has made it clear in Switzerland that he is now targeting a date for the end of the negotiations in summer 2024. However, unlike in football, he cannot finish successfully alone.”

Personally, he would like the negotiations to end by next summer at the latest. Sefcovic explained this with the European elections in May. “In any case, we will do our best,” said the Slovak.



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