The UK is entering a new chapter outside of the EU after tense trade talks with Brussels last year. The Brexit deal is still a contentious issue however, as the EU last week rejected the Government’s calls to redraw the Brexit deal’s Northern Ireland protocol. European Commission’s Vice-President, Marcos Sefcovic, said there have been “teething problems” over the implementation of the protocol in a letter to Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, but added that it was now “our mutually agreed legal obligation”.
Switzerland is also enduring its own political dispute with Brussels as the two parties negotiate an institutional framework agreement.
Negotiations for the partnership began in 2014, but are still to reach a formal conclusion.
This process has been marred by fallout over stock markets after the EU chose not to recognise Switzerland’s equivalence in 2019.
With both countries sharing a eurosceptic outlook, the UK and Switzerland have the potential to cooperate closely, Mr Johnson argued in 2012.
Then London Mayor, Mr Johnson said a “Britzerland” alliance “outside the European Union” which would enjoy free trade with the eurozone, and have a say in negotiating the conditions of this trade arrangement, but which wouldn’t have to sign up to any of Brussels’ plans for further integration.
The Swiss and British governments announced last month that formal talks with Bern had commenced in a bid to broker a new post-Brexit financial services agreement.
The Treasury said the talks would see the two sides try to deliver “a comprehensive mutual recognition agreement that would reduce costs and barriers for UK firms accessing the Swiss market”.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak also heralded the potential new deal, saying: “The UK and Switzerland are both global financial centres, with a shared commitment to high standards of regulation, market integrity and investor protection.
“Our ambition is to deliver one of the most comprehensive agreements of its kind in financial services as part of our plan to seize new opportunities in the global economy now we have left the EU.”
READ MORE: Switzerland dubbed Brexit trade deal ‘political victory’
The result sent shock waves through Europe, as 50.3 percent voted against the idea of joining the EEA, leaving the EU’s hopes of expansion in tatters.
Despite the country’s apparent opposition to increased integration with Europe – Switzerland and the EU started negotiations for a special relationship outside the EEA in 1994.
After years of talks, Switzerland cancelled its application just a week before the UK voted to leave the bloc.