Swiss President takes bitter swipe at Boris Johnson before crunch EU meeting


Brexit: Roger Köppel says he admires the idea of ‘Brit-zerland’

In an interview at the weekend, Mr Parmelin appears to criticise Mr Johnson’s approach when it came to dealings with Brussels, saying: “I am not going to play Boris Johnson.” Speaking to Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche, he also dismissed any comparisons with Brexit, insisting Switzerland “does not want to leave an agreement, but find a solution for developing it further”.

Many Swiss business leaders who are keen on continued smooth access to the EU market want the treaty.

However political resistance to the agreement means Mr Parmelin, a member of the eurosceptic Swiss People’s Party, the biggest in the Swiss parliament, has little leeway to clinch a deal after years of foot-dragging in Bern.

That could leave him fighting a rearguard action when he meets Mrs von der Leyen, who is pressuring Bern finally to embrace the draft accord which was negotiated in three years ago.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson, pictured in the Commons yesterday (Image: Parliament TV)

Switzerland President Guy Parmelin

Switzerland’s President Guy Parmelin (Image: GETTY)

The Swiss cabinet is demanding clarifications on some aspects before it endorses the pact, and officials in Brussels want concrete suggestions from Mr Parmelin, one source familiar with the talks said.

The treaty would mean non-EU member Switzerland routinely adopts single market rules, and is being sold as a more effective way to resolve disputes.

However, critics say it infringes Swiss sovereignty so much that it would never survive a binding referendum, which is what would be required.

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Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission (Image: GETTY)

Failure to strike a deal would leave in place a patchwork of sectoral accords governing bilateral ties, but block Switzerland from any new access to the single market, dashing plans for an electricity union, for example.

Even existing accords will erode over time.

For example, a deal easing cross-border trade in medical technology products lapses in May, for instance.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson’s combative stance appeared to trigger Mr Parmelin’s criticism (Image: GETTY)

Roger Koeppel

Roger Koeppel, a Swiss journalist and politician, praised Mr Johnson last year (Image: GETTY)

Swiss scientists are also concerned they may be frozen out of the EU’s Horizon research programme.

Speaking last year, Roger Koeppel, a member of the country’s National Council, said Brexit had exposed the EU’s double-standards.

In an op-ed for the weekly magazine Weltwoche, he urged his country’s Government to take a leaf out of Mr Johnson’s book.

Brexit timeline

Brexit timeline (Image: Express)

He explained: “The media are raging. The left are fuming. Even in the conservative ranks they are howling, but Johnson, this brilliant poker-player, only coolly cements his own position.

“Johnson’s original crime is that he made himself the mouthpiece of Brexit supporters. They never forgave him for that.

“The only thing worse was his promise to swiftly implement the people’s decision to exit the EU.


Switzerland has never been a member of the European Union (Image: GETTY)

“With this announcement, he achieved a landslide victory in the elections.

“Interestingly, Johnson is a particularly red rag for many Swiss media.

“The criticism is also fierce and poisonous because the British Prime Minister is much more hardline than the Federal Council.

“He is the opposite of our EU-submissive government.”


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