Barriers to the Membership of the Swiss Confederation in the European Union
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Uniwersytet Warszawski
Publication date: 2020-06-25
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2015;51(1):35–49
In the early 1990s, the main barriers preventing Switzerland from becoming a member of the European Union were said to be: neutrality, federalism and direct democracy. With the stabilisation of the bilateral–sectoral path in the relations with Brussels and the introduction of relevant legal regulations in the spirit of redefinition of neutrality after the Cold War, there was an important change in the interpretation of the main barriers to integration with the EU. The thesis that there was a conflict between neutrality and integration was finally dropped. The cantons bearing the main burden of implementation of bilateral agreements obtained considerable influence on the development of the Swiss government’s European policy and became initiators of political reforms. Their pro-integration attitude is also an important factor in the planned revision of the mechanisms of direct democracy. The likelihood of implementing these plans should be associated with the exhaustion of the bilateral option and the need to consider membership in the EU. Currently, there is a common consensus in Switzerland that the bilateral path is the optimum integration variant. This consensus was consolidated even more by the change of the establishment functioning after the war as well as by broad social support. Switzerland becoming a member of the EU does not seem likely in the near future even though the country remains the most desirable potential EU member.