In 1992, 24 years before Britain would have the same vote, Switzerland held a referendum to decide whether the country should join the European Economic Area. The Swiss government has begun the application process for EU membership that year, but this plan was canceled by the EEA referendum. The results sent surprises to Brussels and Bern, because 50.3 percent voted against the idea of joining the EEA, leaving European Union hopes for tattered expansion.
Rene Felber, then President of the Federal Council in Bern, said at the time: “This trial has triggered the Swiss Government to suspend applications for EU membership.
“Switzerland has left many political and economic opportunities open by the European Economic Area.
“It has also violated the traditional policy of restoring relations with Europe.
“We have witnessed the rupture of a grave between Federal authorities and the people.
“The division between the French-speaking cantons and all of Switzerland is a big problem.”
However, in a sign of things to come, Jean-Pascal Delamuraz, another member of the seven-person council, warned that European economic integration would go ahead and that Switzerland’s “defection” would result in discrimination, perhaps against its economy.
Although the country was clearly opposed to increasing integration with Europe – Switzerland and the EU began negotiations for special relations outside the EEA in 1994.
In a referendum on 5 June 2005, Swiss voters agreed, with a 55% majority, to join the Schengen Area. This came into force on 12 December 2008.
In 2010, Switzerland collected around 210 trade agreements with the EU.
In 1999, seven years after the EEA vote, Switzerland basically accepted to voluntarily take EU regulations in return for market access.
For Switzerland, it is important that this happens “voluntarily”, so as to respect the results of the referendum, Pieter Cleppe of the Brussels think tank Open Europe said in 2018.
Meanwhile, for the EU, it is important to have some restrictions to avoid weakening countries such as Norway which have agreed to automatically accept EU rules in return for full access.
to request modification Contact us at Here or [email protected]