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Free movement is main hurdle in Swiss-EU treaty talks - Swiss minister

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Talks to simplify and strengthen ties between the European Union and Switzerland got stuck last week on how to interpret free movement accords, the Swiss government said on Monday (26 April) as parliament encouraged it to keep seeking a treaty deal.

The two sides failed on Friday to update a draft agreement they struck in 2018 after Switzerland insisted on concessions on state aid, labour rules and citizens rights. Swiss President Guy Parmelin said "significant differences" remained.

The crux of the impasse is how to interpret what free movement of people means, Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told reporters, after he and Parmelin briefed parliament's foreign affairs committees behind closed doors on Monday.

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"For Switzerland it is primarily the freedom of employees and their families. For the EU it is freedom of EU citizens," he said, referring to the Swiss system of admitting only those who have jobs here or are wealthy enough to support themselves.

The other big issue is the Swiss system of protecting high wages from being undercut by foreign workers on temporary assignments, he said, adding that the EU sees this as skewing labour market competition.

The foreign affairs panels of both houses of parliament suggested the government keep trying for a deal that could nail down a pact with Switzerland's biggest trading partner.

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The government will decide its approach after consulting the cantons, Parmelin said. Read more

At present EU-Swiss economic ties are governed by more than 100 bilateral agreements.

Failure to strike a deal would block Switzerland from any new access to the single market, such as an electricity union. Existing accords will also erode over time, such as an agreement on cross-border trade in medical technology products that lapses in May.

European Central Bank (ECB)

ECB's Lagarde keeps door open to higher inflation

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Inflation in the eurozone could exceed the European Central Bank's already raised projections but there are few signs of this already happening, ECB President Christine Lagarde (pictured) said on Monday (27 September), writes Balazs Koranyi, Reuters.

"While inflation could prove weaker than foreseen if economic activity were to be affected by a renewed tightening of restrictions, there are some factors that could lead to stronger price pressures than are currently expected," she told lawmakers at the European Parliament.

"But we are seeing limited signs of this risk so far, which means that our baseline scenario continues to foresee inflation remaining below our target over the medium term," she added.

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European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €231 million in pre-financing to Slovenia

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The European Commission has disbursed €231 million to Slovenia in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's grant allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €2.5 billion in total, consisting of €1.8bn in grants and €705m in loans, over the lifetime of its plan. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80 billion in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU.

The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide €800bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The Slovenian plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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