An application by Switzerland for EU membership dating back 24 years has been withdrawn, the Swiss Parliament having voted by a majority of 126 to 24 for withdrawal. The National Council, the lower house of the Swiss parliament, voted through a proposal that Switzerland should no longer be seen as a country preparing to join the EU. The withdrawal motion will now go to the upper house, the Council of States.
The motion’s proposer, Lukas Reimann of the Swiss People’s Party, referring to the ongoing European refugee crisis, said “It is hardly surprising that the EU looks like an ever less attractive club to join. What, after all, is the appeal of joining a club into which the entire world can apparently move?” He then went on to state that “Switzerland had been brutally treated as a nation aspiring to join the EU, in all its negotiations. It had to accept idiotic bureaucracy in the previous era of the Europhiles. Now Switzerland is a more independent nation and in a better position to negotiate with the EU.”
The decision by Switzerland is being hailed as a boost for the Leave campaign in the upcoming Leave or Remain referendum in the UK.
Mr Reimann added “This is a clear and historical message from the Swiss parliament to British voters. We wish you the best of luck for Brexit. These days, Switzerland is called Britzerland because Swiss people support the Brexit.
“A big advantage of leaving the EU, is free trade worldwide, not only between the member states, making it easier and cheaper for British companies to export their goods to the rest of the world,”
“The boost to income outweighs the billions of pounds in membership fees that Britain would save if it left the EU. The UK can have even more of its important negotiation power internationally, by leaving the trading bloc: It would be free to establish trade agreements with non-EU countries worldwide.
“The vast majority of small and medium-sized firms do not trade with the EU but are restricted by a huge regulatory burden imposed from abroad. Leaving the EU makes the UK more open to the world without being bound or enslaved by EU laws on areas such as agriculture, justice and home affairs”
He concluded “The era of the EU application is over for Switzerland and the era of EU membership could be over soon for Britain. This is Britain’s chance of the century for a better future and for prosperity,”
British MEP Daniel Hannan had this to say about the decision:
At the time of writing, it is unclear whether Mr Hannan’s statement means that he would like the UK to join Switzerland as a member of EFTA but remain outside the EEA or if he embraces both EFTA and EEA membership. The wording would seem to indicate the former. Were this the case, while fully welcoming Switzerland’s decision and thanking the Swiss people for their support for Brexit, we do not see this route as the right way forward for a successful Brexit. Nevertheless, in the event of the Leave campaign winning the referendum we look forward to joining Switzerland as fellow EFTA members.