A halt in talks over the EU’s plans to annex Ukraine threatens the future of Switzerland’s economic ties. The EU and Switzerland are surrounded by a large number of bilateral agreements. However, these ties have been deteriorating over time and could damage Switzerland’s de facto membership in the European Union’s common market. It is not clear how the two sides can resolve these issues, but the Swiss government has a range of options for a resumption of trade relations.
At a meeting of EU leaders on 25 June, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz raised the issue of cooperation with Switzerland. The EU member states agreed to place the issue on the agenda of a future leaders meeting. This meeting is not scheduled until the 21st of October. Meanwhile, the Swiss government has not taken such an approach. Its MFA said it was studying the measures adopted by other countries and that the country should not be used as a scapegoat.
The Swiss MFA has said that Switzerland should not automatically follow EU sanctions over the Ukrainian conflict. The United States and jailed Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny called for tougher sanctions against Russia. The EU is considering additional punitive measures and the United States is calling for coordinated action. Previously, the Swiss government had indicated it would not use its national status to circumvent EU sanctions against Russia, but that it had carefully studied the steps other nations had taken.