Most Swiss still support deal with EU, poll finds
VIENNA (Reuters) – Most Swiss voters are still in favor of concluding a bilateral treaty with the European Union, a poll for the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper showed, despite years of tense negotiations and opposition from the from the extreme right and left parties.
Discussions on a treaty text, which would simplify and strengthen ties between the bloc and the neutral country, were stalled last month due to differences over how to interpret free movement agreements, Switzerland said.
Opponents say this would erode Swiss sovereignty and wages. An agreement would have to go to a national vote.
A survey of 2,000 eligible voters by market research GFS Bern found that 49% of those polled said they were “somewhat in favor” of voting for a deal and 15% fully supported it. While 19% were somewhat opposed, 13% were totally against and 4% were undecided.
The absence of an agreement would prevent Switzerland from any new access to the single market, such as an electricity union. Existing agreements will erode over time, such as an agreement on cross-border trade in medical technology products which expires this month.
Last year, the annual poll found the same proportion of voters in favor, 64%, despite growing opposition from parties, including the extreme right SVP.
The pollster, however, warned that support could change again once an agreement on the so-called institutional framework agreement is reached.
“The framework agreement enjoys the support of the majority, but for the people it is not the end,” GFS Bern co-chief Urs Bieri told NZZ.
Of the 49% who were ‘somewhat in favor’, he added: ‘This is a large group that has not yet settled down – therefore the outcome of an election campaign could still tip over to a’ no ‘ . “
Today, EU-Switzerland economic relations are governed by more than 100 bilateral agreements dating back to 1972.
Report by François Murphy; Edited by Raissa Kasolowsky