News & Politics

First the British, Now the Swiss: Conservative Swiss Party Resists Closer Ties With EU

Der Schweizer Justiz- und Polizeiminister Christoph Blocher spricht am Montag, 17. Mai 2004 bei einer Pressekonferenz im Justiministerium in Wien nach seinem Treffen mit Oesterreichs Justizminister Dieter Boehmdorfer. Blocher befindet sich zu Gespraechen mit seinen oesterreichischen Amtskollengen Boehmdorfer und Innenminister Ernst Strasser in Wien. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Since the European Union has been suffering from serious economic problems, you may wonder whether there are still countries out there that wish to become a member if they aren’t already. The answer to that is: yes. There are.

The only problem? These countries are dirt poor. The reason they want to join is that they think the rest of the EU will send them free money. And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that?

As for countries that already are prosperous, let’s just say they’ve got other priorities right now:

Swiss right-wing leader Christoph Blocher and allies fired a salvo on Friday against negotiations to bind Switzerland more closely to the European Union, saying it would be a strategic error to join forces with such a crisis-ridden entity.

Negotiations are about to wrap up on a “framework treaty” that would put Swiss bilateral ties with its most important trading partner on a more comprehensive basis, and Blocher’s Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the biggest in parliament, opposes any agreement that goes beyond existing favourable trade terms.

The wonderful thing about the Swiss system is that any deal between Zürich and Brussels would have to be approved by the Swiss parliament, in which the SVP has the most seats.

What’s more, because of the Swiss model of direct democracy there could even be a referendum on the matter. Knowing the Swiss — a passionately independent people — they’ll vote against a deal if it binds Switzerland more closely to the EU. And make no mistake about it: by “binding more closely to the EU,” I actually mean the EU taking over. If there is a deal, the EU will be able to impose binding rules on Switzerland. If or when a dispute arises, EU courts will rule on them.

Somehow I don’t see the Swiss people accepting such a deal. As Blocher puts it:

Foreign laws, foreign judges. That is a very fundamental decision we have to make, along the lines of the 1992 decision on entering the European Economic Area and then the EU.

The Swiss government may be willing to surrender to the EU, but I do not doubt that this new anti-EU campaign by the SVP will pay off, resulting in Switzerland keeping its sovereignty. After that, it’s time for current EU members to follow Britain’s example and get out before it’s too late and the entire house of cards collapses.