Following Switzerland's adoption of the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals on 16 December 2016 and the meeting of the EU-Switzerland Joint Committee on 22 December, the Commission welcomes the progress in EU-Swiss relations in several areas.
Swiss Parliament's adoption of the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals on 16 December 2016
The balance achieved around the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals on 16 December 2016 should make it possible to preserve the integrity of the contractual commitments between the European Union and Switzerland. However, the implementing order will have to provide certain clarifications and guarantees on key points. Questions about access to information about job vacancies and full respect for the rights of frontier workers are particularly important.
The President of the European Commission, Jean-ClaudeJuncker, who has been personally involved in the search for a solution with his Swiss counterparts for the past eighteen months, said: "The Swiss authorities and the European institutions have worked tirelessly to find a solution that would guarantee full respect for one of our founding principles: the free movement of persons. The Commission will closely monitor the implementation of this solution. 2017 could be a milestone in the development of closer relations between the European Union and Switzerland, with a view to enhancing still further the vitality of our area of freedom - of all forms of freedom - to the benefit of all our citizens".
The Commission expressed the hope that the transposition and clarification work would be carried out in a spirit of transparency and close cooperation, particularly in the Joint Committee provided for in the Agreement on the free movement of persons.
Protocol providing for Croatia's accession to the Agreement on the free movement of persons
The Commission welcomes Switzerland's ratification of the Protocol providing for Croatia's accession to the Agreement on the free movement of persons, which was notified to the European Union on 16 December 2016.
As a result of the ratification of this Protocol, Switzerland will be fully associated with the Horizon 2020 programme, and negotiations on its participation in the ERASMUS programme can now resume.
Institutional framework between the European Union and Switzerland
The Commission welcomes the Federal Council's aim of renewing and deepening relations with the European Union and, in this connection, its intention to adopt a message on an institutional agreement between the European Union and Switzerland. Such an agreement is needed to provide legal certainty in EU Swiss bilateral relations and to reach new agreements to expand our ties.
Participation in the European Cohesion Programme
The European Commission believes it is essential for the Federal Council to express its support for Switzerland's participation in the European Cohesion Programme by renewing its financial contribution.