Switzerland and EU to Strengthen Collaboration on Health Crisis and Food Safety

Switzerland and EU to Strengthen Collaboration on Health Crisis and Food Safety

May 28, 2024

The Federal Council is preparing an agreement with the European Union to enhance cooperation during health crises. This initiative includes negotiating new treaties on food safety and air transport with the EU Commission. Since mid-March, the Federal Council has been engaged in discussions with the European Union Commission to regulate future relations. According to the "Common Understanding," Switzerland would align its legislation with EU laws for both new and existing agreements.

Joining EU Health Crisis Management

To address cross-border health threats such as pandemics, the Swiss government aims to participate in the EU’s crisis management networks and mechanisms. This includes joining the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the EU’s health programme, as outlined in the negotiating mandate.

Historical Context of Health Agreement Talks

Negotiations for a health agreement between Switzerland and the EU began in 2008. However, due to unresolved institutional issues, these talks have not been finalized. Consequently, cooperation has been limited to case-by-case crisis situations.

Enhanced Food Safety Agreement

In parallel, Switzerland and the EU are negotiating a new food safety agreement. This would extend the existing agricultural agreement to cover the entire food supply chain, from the field to the plate. The Federal Council aims to prevent counterfeit food and unsafe products from entering the market, while also providing Swiss food producers with better access to the domestic market.

Swiss Standards and Exceptions

The existing exceptions, such as the animal transit ban and the prohibition on genetically modified seeds, will remain in place. Moreover, new exemptions to protect Swiss standards, particularly regarding animal welfare, will be included in the agreement. These negotiations will not impact agricultural policy.

Boosting Swiss Aviation Industry

Switzerland has had an agreement with the EU since 2002, granting Swiss airlines access to the European single market. This agreement ensures a high level of safety and regulates Swiss participation in the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Expanding Business Opportunities in Aviation

The Federal Council seeks to expand business opportunities for the Swiss aviation industry. One such opportunity is "cabotage," which would allow Swiss airlines to offer domestic connections in third countries and vice versa. This practice is already implemented within the EU and could provide significant benefits to Swiss airlines.

By strengthening these agreements, Switzerland aims to ensure safety, improve market access for its producers, and expand business opportunities for its industries, fostering closer collaboration with the European Union.

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