# 9 / 2023

Bilaterals III: What is it all about?

On December 15, 2023, The Federal Council has adopted the draft mandate for the Bilaterals III. The latter includes, among other things, the update of the five existing and the conclusion of two new single market agreements (in the areas of electricity and food safety), as well as cooperation in research, education and health. economiesuisse supports the start of negotiations with the EU, as the main objectives of the Swiss economy can undoubtedly be achieved with the Bilaterals III.

Executive summary

On December 15, the Federal Council adopted the draft of the negotiation mandate for the Bilaterals III. The negotiation package of the Bilaterals III includes, among other things, the update of the five existing singlemarket agreements (Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), Agreement on dismantling technical barriers to trade (MRA), overland transport, air transport and farming). In addition, two new internal market agreements for electricity and food safetyare to be concluded. In the areas of research, education and health, the package envisages cooperation with the European Union (EU). The financial dialogue is also to be resumed with immediate effect.

economiesuisse welcomes the start of the negotiations with the EU. The institutional rules for the internal market agreements should be found/defined in the process. The package approach with vertical, sectoral solutions is supported. There is no doubt that the main goals of the Swiss economy with the Bilaterals III can be achieved. These include, in particular, securing Switzerland’s long-term participation in the EU single market, strengthening security of supply through the conclusion of an electricity agreement, as well as the participation in the European research program “Horizon Europe”. Without a regulated relationship with its most important trade partner, however, there is a risk of further erosion of the bilateral path to the detriment of Swiss companies and with serious consequences for Switzerland as a business location.

Positions of economiesuisse

In economiesuisse’s view, the following aspects are crucial for the negotiations of the Bilaterals III:

  • Securing Switzerland’s long-term participation of in the EU single market with the help of the Bilaterals III.
  • Ending the ongoing erosion of the bilateral path at the start of the negotiations.
  • Re-establishing legal certainty for participation in the internal market and more concrete protection of Swiss interests with exemption clauses.
  • The conclusion of new internal market agreements in the areas of electricity and food safety.
  • Participation in the EU programs for research and innovation, as well as the conclusion of the health cooperation agreement.