PositionEuropean Commission

The European Commission has decided to suspend the negotiations launched with Switzerland in the areas of research and electricity. The decision forms part of the Union's strategy of graduated response to Swiss voters' approval of the initiative to halt mass immigration, on 9 February, which flies in the face of one of the Union's "sacred values" - free movement of persons - according to the executive.

Sabine Berger, spokeswoman for Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, confirmed, on 11 February, that "considering the new situation, no technical negotiations are planned" between Berne and the Commission in the area of electricity. The Commission will "reflect upon its future course of action in terms of the general context," she added.

The context is not very favourable to Switzerland: the Commission has also decided to cancel a negotiation session planned for 12 February on renewal of Swiss participation in EU's research and education programmes (see separate article). On the other hand, "technical discussions" on savings taxation - pursuit of which is in the EU's interest - are still scheduled to take place in Brussels, on 13 February.

On 12 February, the Swiss government is expected to clarify certain ins and outs of this vote, which over the longer term could endanger the whole architecture of bilateral agreements signed by Berne and the EU.

Things have not reached that point yet, as Switzerland theoretically has three years to transpose into law the initiative that provides for...

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