In this discussion paper for the Swiss foreign policy think-tank foraus, I analyse the TTIP negotiations from a Swiss point of view. In a nutshell, my paper argues that TTIP is rightly facing a contentious debate, as it’s an agreement with deep-seated political implications. For Switzerland, the dilemma is between marginal economic gains, traded off against a considerable political price – and all of that with little bargaining power to realise Swiss economic diplomacy.
The agreement’s planned dynamic nature, such as through the often criticised ‘regulatory cooperation’, is starkly at odds with the Swiss trade paradigm. I discuss three key scenarios for Switzerland, notably an EFTA-US parallel agreement. The Swiss political establishment likely will fail to find a majority in favour of joining TTIP, as the Left opposes TTIP’s neoliberal and arguably undemocratic nature, and as the Right insists on national sovereignty and high agricultural protectionism.
Finally, TTIP will aggravate Switzerland’s tense relations with the EU: Without the negotiation of an institutional framework agreement, the EU will not let Switzerland join the TTIP club. But before such an endeavour, however, TTIP merits an open and thorough debate. The traditional “more or less Europe” mantra will not suffice anymore.