Bilaterals III

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Swissmem supports Bilaterals III

The loss of market access and uncertainty regarding the future of Switzerland’s relationship with the European Union (EU) are harmful to the Swiss technology industry (the MEM industries and related technology sectors). With an export share of over 55%, the European market is by far the most important for the sector with its 330,000 or so employees. Its companies are also reliant on the EU for the recruitment of specialist staff and participation in research and innovation projects. Moreover, an electricity agreement is crucial. That’s why Swissmem supports preserving the bilateral path.

The bilateral path has proved to be a successful one for Switzerland: it assures us of privileged access to the vast European single market while at the same time securing us the maximum possible independence. Since the bilateral agreements were put in place in 1999, Swiss businesses have benefited and Switzerland’s prosperity has increased.

Positive economic development – for Swiss businesses and people

Switzerland’s positive development as a business location, with its strong export industry, is delivering secure jobs and rising wages for its people. Switzerland has also benefited enormously from partnerships in a number of fields such as research and innovation or border security.

Swissmem is campaigning for Switzerland to safeguard and progress further down this path. This will be accomplished with the “Bilaterals III” package of agreements. Over two years of exploration and technical discussions, many questions have been resolved and favourable solutions secured for our country. Now we need to move quickly to start and successfully conclude the negotiations: an agreement must be concluded in the course of 2024, before a new EU Commission is formed. 

No additional accompanying measures

The exploratory work has yielded clear improvements in the area of wage protection, gaining safeguards under international law for the specificities of the Swiss control system and a non-regression clause. The latter provides Switzerland with assurance that its level of protection against wage dumping will not be lowered by either new EU rules or the ECJ. Combined with technical improvements in the implementation of the accompanying measures, the current level of wage protection can thus be secured — and even optimized thanks to digitalization. Swissmem is assisting with this. Swissmem is strongly opposed to additional, unnecessary interventions in the flexible labour market such as easing the general applicability of collective employment agreements and other changes for the worse in framework conditions.

Secure electricity supply thanks to agreement with EU

The “Bilaterals III” package also includes new agreements, in particular in the electricity sector. This is vitally important for Switzerland: from 2026 onwards, EU members will be required to reserve 70% of their grid capacity for trade between the EU countries. This will make it more difficult and more expensive to maintain a secure electricity supply in Switzerland, particularly in winter – a major risk for the Swiss technology industry companies. We can prevent this by coming to an agreement with the EU.

By reaching a deal on the “Bilaterals III”, in future Switzerland will continue to be able to...

  • ...participate in European networking as a strong and open country.
  • ...assure virtually unobstructed access to the European market.
  • ...where needed, recruit skilled workers in shortage professions for important roles from anywhere in Europe without excessive red tape.
  • ...once again participate fully in European research and innovation projects with its universities and businesses.
  • its current level of wage protection and optimize its enforcement.

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Last update: 14.12.2023