November 6, 2018 / 3:51 PM / 13 days ago

Switzerland expects EU to extend bourse recognition by a year

ZURICH, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer expects the EU to extend its recognition of Swiss bourse rules by another year, allowing cross-border stock trading beyond the end of 2018 as the sides try to hammer out an umbrella treaty on their economic ties.

The European Union has said it could take punitive measures - including refusing to roll over recognition of bourse rules - should the treaty talks fail, touching off Swiss retaliation.

“The question is: (would an extension be) provisional or definite? It is probably moving towards a provisional extension by a year,” Swiss broadcaster SRF quoted Maurer as saying after meeting EU finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.

Prospects for a treaty setting out Switzerland’s ties to its biggest trading partner appeared to fade last month when negotiators could not reach a breakthrough after four years of talks.

But a last push might be possible this year if Britain can nail down terms of an orderly exit from the bloc, and after a politically sensitive Swiss referendum on Nov. 25 on whether to put the Swiss constitution above international law.

The European Commission has been loath to be soft on the Swiss for fear of providing ammunition to Brexiteers.

The EU has been pressing Switzerland to ease rules that protect high Swiss wages against cross-border competition from skilled labour. Swiss unions are fighting this tooth and nail, leaving the outlook for a treaty deal in doubt.

“I don’t think we will have a yes or no — black or white — within a few weeks,” Maurer said.

The economy minister of current EU president Austria also said last month that Switzerland and the EU were unlikely to strike a deal this year.

Brussels has pressed Switzerland to agree a pact that would sit atop an existing patchwork of 120 sectoral accords and have the Swiss routinely adopt changes to EU single market rules.

It would focus on five areas: the free movement of people, civil aviation, land transport, mutual recognition of industrial standards and processed farm goods. The treaty would also provide a more effective platform to resolve disputes.

If talks fail, the sectoral accords would stay in effect but relations would suffer. No deal would mean no increase in Swiss access to the single market, dashing hopes for a new electricity union. It could also endanger unfettered EU market access for Swiss makers of products such as medical devices. (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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