European Voices: Switzerland

I don’t see what they expect will change

Europe is so integrated that inside or outside the EU, you have to follow the rules.

Antoine BernardBanking, commodities trader

Switzerland – From my point of view and experience, most people don’t talk about the UK referendum here. But there’s a lot of press coverage, especially in the financial newspapers, focusing mainly on the impact that the result of this referendum could have on Switzerland.

Two years ago we had a referendum on restricting migration from the EU which was approved by the Swiss people and caused a lot of problems in the frame of the renegotiation of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU. Since then, we’ve been trying to find a solution with Brussels and the talks are now on hold until the end of the British referendum. In this respect, for Swiss politics, whatever will be the result it will have an impact on the negotiations.

The other aspect is that people are talking mainly about the impact it will have on the Swiss banks. Some say that if the UK leaves the EU, it will be good for the local finance industry because this sector may benefit while the UK banks are forced to (re)negotiate their access to the EU market, and London could be an ally for Switzerland in these negotiations with the EU. But other people believe that it will not be a good sign at all because there are many Swiss Investment banks based in London.

Personally, if I was living in the UK I’d vote to stay in the EU. Because if you remove all the populist arguments of people supporting a Brexit, like that Britain will continue to be “invaded” by asylum seekers, that the country would have more money for its public services or will be able to not follow  EU legislation, the reality is that a country such as the UK, inside or outside the EU, will have to continue to follow EU regulations. They UK economy is so integrated with the EU, that whatever pro-Brexit British politicians might say, London will have to continue to adapt its laws with the EU legislation.

Here in Switzerland, we have to follow the advice of the EU on 80% of our law. If British companies don’t respect EU regulation, they won’t have access to the European market anymore. Same with immigration, I don’t understand what will change, as the UK is not part of Schengen area and might risk, if it left the EU, jeopardising migration agreements with countries such as France which help them control illegal immigration to the UK.

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