The European Union has suspended negotiations on Switzerland’s participation in the Union’s research programme, Horizon 2020, and in the exchange programme Erasmus+.
The suspension came in response to Switzerland’s announcement on Saturday (15 February) that it will not sign a protocol expanding freedom of movement to Croatia, the EU’s newest member state.
Simonetta Sommaruga, Switzerland’s justice minister, called Vesna Pusić, Croatia’s foreign minister, to inform her of the decision on the protocol, according to the Swiss justice ministry. It did not say when the call was made.
Sommaruga told Pusić that a vote on 9 February to introduce caps on immigrants from the EU made it impossible for the government to sign the protocol on Croatia. The vote put provisions in the country’s constitution that bar the government, with immediate effect, from concluding any international agreement that might run counter to the new rules. The government now has three years to come up with the practicalities of introducing caps.
On Sunday, a spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed that negotiations on the research and exchange programmes had been suspended in response.
Yves Rossier, Switzerland’s co-ordinator for relations with the EU, will hold first exploratory talks in Brussels on Thursday (21 February) to discuss the way ahead. He will discuss the government’s thinking with David O’Sullivan, a senior EU diplomat. O’Sullivan is expected to brief the ambassadors of EU member states on Thursday afternoon.
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