BRUSSELS, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Thursday it had the backing of European Union states for Swiss stock exchanges to be allowed to retain their access to the EU market until the end of June.
The move, which confirms decisions taken by the EU executive in recent days and weeks, extends the existing “equivalence” regime that permits Swiss financial firms to operate in the 28-nation bloc after it expires at the end of 2018.
Equivalence decisions are taken by the EU Commission after consultation with EU states.
The temporary extension is meant to give the Swiss government more time to endorse a new treaty governing its relations with the EU. The draft “framework” treaty agreed with Brussels is subject to public consultation until “the spring”.
The draft treaty would bring Switzerland closer to the EU, by establishing a mechanism for Bern to adapt new EU rules more smoothly. It would also give the EU Court of Justice a final say on the application of EU laws in Switzerland.
“Our objective remains to quickly sign the framework treaty. The temporary prolongation of the equivalence should give Switzerland enough time to conduct its consultation on the pact,” Commission’s vice president Valdis Dombrovskis said.
If the Swiss did not endorse the treaty by the end of June, the Commission has threatened to exclude Swiss exchanges from the EU market, a decision that would prevent EU banks and investors from trading shares on Swiss exchanges.
Both the traditionally pro-EU left and anti-EU far-right say the draft deal infringes too much on Swiss sovereignty, leaving the four-party coalition government short of a majority to approve it before elections next year. (Reporting by Francesco Guarascio Editing by Alexander Smith)