Swiss foreign minister rejects one-year limit to EU finance market access

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis (left) shakes hands with his French counterpart Jean-Yves le Drian in Paris on December 19, 2017


Switzerland’s foreign minister has insisted that a conditional one-year limit should not be placed on the financial ‘equivalence’ of the Swiss and European stock exchanges. 

“Switzerland’s position is clear: it expects the European Union to recognise financial equivalence (…) by January 3 at the latest,” Ignazio Cassis told reporters following an official visit to Paris on Tuesday. 

Cassis said he had told his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian that he was “dissatisfied with the progress of this dossier”.

An internal EU document, seen by Swiss news agency, ATS, and Swiss public television, SRF, reveals that the financial equivalence mechanism for Switzerland, which allows for cross-border financial trading on equal terms, was approved by the EU countries, but with a conditional limit of one year. 

If nothing changes, the implication would be that the Swiss stock exchange would lose the equivalence with its European counterpart on December 31, 2018.

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Cassis told reporters in the French capital that the Swiss Federal Council (executive body) had already rejected any one-year clause during European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s visit to Bern on 23 November.

“Switzerland expects financial equivalence to be guaranteed the day the Swiss stock exchange opens,” said Cassis. “If this is not done or if there are conditions that Switzerland doesn’t judge legitimate, the government will take decisions.”

The draft EU paper on financial equivalence is currently in consultation with the member states, the Commission says. According to information in the document, EU states have until Wednesday December 20 at 5pm CET to raise objections – otherwise the one-year stipulation will tacitly come into effect. 

During his meeting with Le Drian, the Swiss foreign minister also expressed Switzerland’s “irritation” at having been placed on the EU’s grey list of tax havens “without prior notification”. and agencies/sb

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