# 04 / 2018

Brexit: a “moving target” for the Swiss business sector too

Political priorities from the point of view of the Swiss business sector

Brexit is a moving target not only for companies, but also for Swiss policy makers. The details regarding the situation after 29 March 2019 (i.e. the transitional period) are still unclear, as is the post-Brexit status of the relations between the UK and the EU on the one hand, and Switzerland and the UK on the other. However, from the point of view of the Swiss business sector, the political priorities that are to be pursued in this uncertain environment are very clear.

Immediate action: negotiation and synchronisation of an interim solution

  • Bilateral relations between Switzerland and the UK have to meet two conditions: (1) They must not give rise to a deterioration of reciprocal market access, and (2) they must not be less favourable than the arrangements agreed between the EU and the UK. In the future, Swiss companies must also be able to benefit from the same conditions as their competitors in Europe.
  • Even though the regulations governing the transitional period will primarily apply between the UK and the EU, any binding ratified agreement for a transitional period must also encompass relations with non-member states. This would give Switzerland more time for regulating its bilateral relationship with the UK. The agreements between Switzerland and the UK that are necessary for this should therefore be concluded as quickly as possible.
  • With regard to triangularity issues (three-way relations), “synchronising” the transitional period agreed between the EU and the UK with a bilateral solution between Switzerland and the UK is essential for the economy. In other words, Switzerland also needs a transitional arrangement as of 29 March 2019. This is the only way a smooth transition and the seamless preservation of the status quo in relations between Switzerland and the UK can be secured immediately after Brexit.
  • The Federal Council and the administration have to initiate the necessary preparatory tasks at an early stage. These include consultations on a mandate to initiate Brexit negotiations as soon as formal talks are permissible. Any such agreement will subsequently also have to be ratified. In the event that provisional application of agreements should prove necessary for time reasons, the business sector would explicitly support this.

After the expiry of the transitional period on 31 December 2020: creation of stability and utilisation of opportunities

  • The business sector needs clarity regarding future economic relations and the status of companies in the UK once the transitional period is over. Long-term stability creates legal and planning certainty for trade and investments.
  • Challenges associated with Triangularity (between the EU, the UK and Switzerland) have to be addressed as quickly as possible. However, binding rules for areas in which solutions can be found more speedily and at the bilateral level should not be unnecessarily delayed.
  • Opportunities for intensifying bilateral relations between Switzerland and the UK should be utilised wherever this is feasible and beneficial. This applies in particular to issues relating to reciprocal recognition in the financial services sector, as well as rules of origin and increased cooperation within the framework of international platforms and organisations. Evolutionary clauses should be used for securing the further development of negotiated agreements.
  • Regardless of the level of bilateral relations with the UK, the EU will remain Switzerland’s most important trade partner in the future. It is therefore in the interests of the business sector to maintain and continually develop profitable relations with both partners.

Brexit contact point for companies: brexit@economiesuisse.ch

Together with various industry associations, economiesuisse maintains close contact with the federal administration and the relevant authorities in Brussels and London. economiesuisse has also set up a central contact point for Swiss companies (brexit@economiesuisse.ch).