Switzerland and Great Britain have many common interests, says the British ambassador in Bern, Jane Owen.
With Brexit completed, Great Britain can position itself politically and diplomatically completely independently of the EU. And London does. This can also be seen in the fact that the British stock exchange intends to start trading in Swiss stocks again soon, while the EU continues to refuse to grant Switzerland stock exchange equivalence. The British immigration regulations outside of the free movement of persons are also new. Anyone who wants to work must meet a points system that takes into account good qualifications, but also the need for professional specialists.
Diplomat Jane Owen has been the United Kingdom’s ambassador for Switzerland and Liechtenstein in Bern since December 2017.
SRF News: How did the introduction of the new immigration system start?
Jane Owen: It’s a little early for an assessment. But it’s not all brand new. We have operated an efficient immigration system for decades – with four million visa applications annually. We assume that we can handle the additional applications with the previous system.
Who guarantees that Swiss specialist knowledge is correctly assessed by the British migration authority. About apprenticeship?
As before, we are considering the qualifications from around the world. So not just university degrees, but also apprenticeships. The Swiss do not have to worry about their qualifications not being accepted.
The Swiss do not have to worry about their qualifications not being accepted.
Swiss shares should be allowed to be traded again on the London Stock Exchange in February. Are you involved in the negotiations?
I am very pleased that I am involved and that we have now signed seven bilateral agreements with Switzerland. They ensure that our excellent relationships will continue in the future. With regard to the stock exchange, Great Britain has always been of the opinion that Switzerland fulfills the requirements for stock exchange equivalence and that technical decisions should not be politicized.
In the area of financial services, we worked very closely with the Swiss authorities to secure market access. Talks are currently underway about the mutual recognition of financial regulations. For two of the largest financial centers in Europe, this is important for the future economic development of the continent.
If the UK reintroduces stock exchange equivalence for Swiss stocks, it will be a clear departure from EU policy. Does Switzerland now have an ally in the discourse with the EU?
Great Britain and Switzerland have their own separate relationship with the EU. I respect the bilateral path that Switzerland has taken with the EU. But it is also important to remember that we have a great many common interests in order to work together as major partners of the EU in the field of trade, foreign policy and research. To ensure that non-EU members can also have a good relationship with the EU. So that both sides can increase Europe’s competitiveness and prosperity. Therefore the relationship between Great Britain and Switzerland will become even more important for both countries in the coming years.
The relationship between Great Britain and Switzerland will become even more important in the coming years.
Could you imagine that Great Britain and Switzerland will appear together more often in the future towards Brussels?
I am sure that we will work together more in the areas of services and research, where in the UK we have now negotiated access to the important Horizon program. There are other areas such as digitization and data where we have a common interest in maintaining a very close and good relationship with the EU.
Interview conducted by Roger Brändlin.