Federal Councillor Keller-Sutter on a working visit to London: Switzerland strengthens cooperation with the UK

Press Release, FDJP, 10.07.2019

The United Kingdom and Switzerland intend to work more closely on fighting terrorism and crime. On 10 July, the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police FDJP, Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter, was in London to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to this effect with her British counterpart. She also signed an agreement on mutual access to the UK and Swiss labour markets in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The key points at a glance:

  • Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter is on a working visit to London.
  • Switzerland and the UK have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together more closely on fighting terrorism and crime.
  • • A transitional agreement on mutual access to labour markets protects the interests of the Swiss economy in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Switzerland and the UK want to reinforce their already good cooperation on police matters. Both countries have reaffirmed their intention to work together even more closely in the future, especially in cases of organised crime and terrorism. In these areas in particular, cooperation between Switzerland and the UK is important for internal security.

The two countries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase police cooperation regardless of the Brexit outcome. This Memorandum is particularly important if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, as this means that all information from the British security services will be deleted from key EU databases such as the Schengen Information System. In this case Switzerland, as indeed all other states in the Schengen Area, would no longer have access to this valuable information, making it all the more necessary to find alternative forms of cooperation and other information channels.

The Memorandum of Understanding with the UK is part of Switzerland’s strategy of bilateral police cooperation with other European partners. To date Switzerland has concluded agreements with 16 European countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Austria and some Eastern European countries.

Ensuring access to the labour market

Federal Councillor Keller-Sutter also signed a fallback agreement on admission to the labour market, which was approved by the Federal Council on 17 April.

The agreement is part of the Federal Council’s ’Mind the Gap’ strategy, which aims to secure as far as possible existing mutual rights and obligations after Brexit. In that regard, the FDJP signed an agreement with the UK on 25 February securing existing citizens’ rights (e.g. residency rights) post-Brexit. The fallback agreement signed today safeguards the future access of new Swiss workers to the UK labour market while also guaranteeing the interests of firms in Switzerland seeking to recruit new British workers. The agreement will only enter into force in the event of a no-deal Brexit and is limited in duration until 31 December 2020. In the event of an orderly Brexit the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons with the EU will continue to apply.

Bilateral meetings

Ms Keller-Sutter also used her working visit to London to hold a number of bilateral meetings, including with Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke, and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, The informal discussions addressed ways of further developing bilateral relations.

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