On 23 February 2022, the Federal Council set out an approach for its negotiating package and on 17 June took the decision to step up exploratory talks on that approach with the EU. Subsequently, on 31 August it decided to establish an organisational structure to ensure better management of policy and content. The steering group convened twice in September, while members of the sounding board attended their first meeting on 11 October 2022.
The fact that all government departments have dealings with the EU makes it essential to coordinate all areas at strategic level and synchronise policies, administrative aspects and communication. The steering group has been set up to achieve this objective. It is composed of authorised representatives for all heads of department and the Federal Chancellery and is chaired by the head of the FDFA.
The sounding board will perform two tasks. Firstly, it will promote debate among the main stakeholders and ensure that information is consistent. Secondly, it will facilitate active, direct exchanges with a view to ensuring that key national actors have greater input into ongoing talks with the EU. The sounding board is also chaired by the head of the FDFA.
Former State Secretary Mario Gattiker, who has expertise in assessing regulatory differences between Switzerland and the EU, is also acting as adviser to both bodies.
Status of talks with the EU
Exploratory talks with the EU are taking place on two separate levels: talks on the package approach led by State Secretary Livia Leu and technical talks – based, in particular, on findings from the report on regulatory differences between Switzerland and the EU – led by Deputy State Secretary and head of the FDFA's Europe Division Patric Franzen.
The steering group and sounding board will assess the results of the ongoing exploratory talks and determine their acceptability in terms of domestic and foreign policy. The results will also be discussed on a regular basis as part of the dialogue on Europe with the Conference of Cantonal Governments and within the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committees.
Address for enquiries:
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Communication service: +41 58 462 31 53
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55