Following the rejection of EEA membership in 1992, Switzerland and the EU agreed on a set of seven sectoral agreements signed in 1999 (called “bilateral I” in Switzerland). These include the free movement of people, technical barriers to trade, public procurement, agriculture and air and land transport. In addition, a scientific agreement on research has fully integrated Switzerland into the EU`s research framework programmes. These bilateral agreements between the EU and Switzerland are currently managed by some 20 joint committees. If no agreement is reached after the spring 2020 vote, the question of a Plan B arises. In order to mitigate the negative consequences of possible non-acceptance and to allow the resumption of negotiations at a later date, the conclusion of an interim agreement could be considered. It would therefore be clear that, although Switzerland does not have the right to enter into other market access agreements, the existing agreements remain in force. Bilateral agreements I are expressed as interdependent. If one of them is pointed at or not renewed, they no longer apply to all of them.
According to the preamble to the EU`s decision to ratify the agreements: cooperation between the EU and Switzerland is based on a set of 120 bespoke agreements, 25 of which could be considered the main bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU. At the same time, Switzerland is not in a customs union with the EU, which means that it is not obliged to respect the same tariffs on third countries. That is why Switzerland has been able to conclude free trade agreements with third parties, such as China and Indonesia; Negotiations are ongoing with India. These figures are eloquent: the facilitation of tariffs works very well, because their legal basis is the customs agreement with the EU and many bilateral technical agreements with the four neighbouring EU Member States, which facilitate border controls of goods. The scope of the framework agreement is limited to the five existing bilateral market access agreements (free movement of people, removal of technical barriers to trade, land, air and agricultural transport) and all future market access agreements. The ongoing implementation of these agreements obliges Switzerland to adopt relevant EU legislation in the covered sectors. Surrounded by four EU member states – Germany, Austria, Italy and France – Switzerland has bilateral relations with the EU, which means that the EU and Switzerland negotiate separate agreements on various issues.