* Talks were frozen after Swiss vote on immigration
* Ukraine crisis has sharpened focus on supply security
ZURICH/BRUSSELS Aug 7 Swiss authorities said
they had resumed talks with EU regulators on a cross-border
energy market, which would help to improve security of the
region's energy supply.
Talks on incorporating Switzerland into EU plans for a
single energy market were frozen early this year following a
Swiss referendum vote to curtail immigration.
The Swiss Federal Department of Energy confirmed on Thursday
that talks had resumed.
"The negotiations have been taken up again and are still
ongoing, i.e. the agreement has not yet been finalised," a
spokesman said, declining to give further details.
The European Commission has been seeking closer connections
with Switzerland and other EU neighbours as part of efforts to
create a common energy market, with improved infrastructure and
technical agreements on how electricity can be traded from one
country to another.
The talks were held up after the European Union criticised
Switzerland over its introduction of immigration quotas, but a
meeting of EU ministers in May agreed that talks could take
place on bilateral relations with Switzerland covering a range
An EU official, who asked not to be named, said this meant
that the Commission, the EU executive, could hold talks on an
energy deal with Switzerland.
"The European Commission will now together with the Swiss
authorities look for an appropriate way how to proceed," the
official said in an emailed comment.
Swiss participation is important for countries such as
Italy, which border Switzerland, and Switzerland's hydroelectric
capacity has value to the region as a store of power for release
when demand rises.
Prior to the suspension of technical talks after the Swiss
referendum in February, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther
Oettinger had said the Commission was in intense negotiations
with Switzerland to integrate it into the bloc's single energy
The EU goal of a single energy market has gained impetus
because of the conflict with Russia, the bloc's biggest energy
supplier, over its role in the Ukraine crisis.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley in Zurich, Barbara Lewis in
Brussels and Geert de Clercq in Paris; editing by Jane Baird)