René SchwokSwitzerland – European Union, An impossible membership

2.13 René Schwok, Switzerland – European Union, An impossible membership,  excerpts chapter 9, chapter 10 Why Switzerland refused to join the European Union, p. 93 – 126 and conclusions: Interesting Paradoxes p. 127 – 130

a) Background

The texts at hand are two chapters of a book by René Schwok entitled Switzerland – European Union, An Impossible Membership, which was published in 2009 in “European Policy”, an interdisciplinary series devoted to the study of political systems in a broader sense. While being committed to academic standards, “European Policy” seeks to be accessible to a wide audience. The study by Schwok explains the key elements of the relationship between the Swiss Confederation and the European Union. He begins by summarizing the main steps in this special and evolving relationship which has long oscillated between membership and marginalisation. The text finally and perhaps most importantly explains, why the Swiss still are opposed to joining the European Union. It examines the key questions of identity, reservations on policy matters such as preserving neutrality, direct democracy and Swiss style federalism as well as regarding the economy, which have contributed in shaping public opinion and the official strategy of the Swiss Confederation. It seems to be a paradox that the closer Switzerland gets to the EU through bilateral agreements, the more distant the prospects for joining the EU seems to become. The issue of full membership is the conundrum at the heart of the relationship between the Swiss Confederation and the European Union. It is the only text in the Anthology, which squarely addresses and analyses the issue of full membership.

Professor René Schwok is associated with the European Institute and the Department of Political Science of the University of Geneva. He is also holder of the Jean Monnet Chair in Political Science. René Schwok was born in Geneva and is Swiss. He received his PhD from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. He pursued part of his studies at the Institute for European Studies at Harvard University, Cambridge MA.

René Schwok is part of the multifaceted and internationally radiating institutional environment of Geneva, which comprises a series of research institutes and institutions of higher learning. Geneva’s, institutional landscape forms an integral part of Swiss Legal Culture, in particular in international matters. Interdisciplinary studies, an early integration of history, economy, law and political science and an early inclusion of a global perspective are the trademarks of this institutional environment.

The lead question in Chapter 9: Why Switzerland refused to join the European Union is Why has Switzerland remained the sole state of continental Europe to refuse membership even though it would have been readily accepted by the EU? Schwok in answering these questions first explores the deep-rooted causes of the mistrust vis-à-vis European Integration that had existed in Switzerland ever since the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was created in 1950.
Schwok identifies, analyses and discusses the Swiss reticence to accession by examining five themes: 1) identity, 2) neutrality, 3) direct democracy, 4) federalism and 5) economic distinctiveness. Schwok includes descriptions of the public perception of the issue and identifies in all the subparts the main difficulties encountered regarding the topics analysed. He describes the influences of political science concepts such as constructivist and realist approaches and identifies relevant economic concepts such as the neo-functionalist and the realist approach. He always identifies the position of the major political forces and squarely addresses the core issues such as: what would Switzerland’s EU budget contribution amount to? Would Switzerland switch the Euro instead of the Swiss franc?

In chapter 10: Conclusions: Interesting Paradoxes Schwok uncovers a certain number of interesting points and paradoxes which are ever present in the discussion of the issue of the full accession of Switzerland. These paradoxes are: Switzerland is sometimes more integrated than some EU member states, the bilateral agreements are not original from a legal point of view and the Swiss case defies a number of theories.

b) Summary

The lead question in Chapter 9: Why Switzerland refused to join the European Union is Why has Switzerland remained the sole state of continental Europe to refuse membership even though it would have been readily accepted by the EU? Schwok in answering these questions first explores the deep-rooted causes of the mistrust vis-à-vis European Integration that had existed in Switzerland ever since the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was created in 1950.
Schwok identifies, analyses and discusses the Swiss reticence to accession by examining five themes: 1) identity, 2) neutrality, 3) direct democracy, 4) federalism and 5) economic

distinctiveness. Schwok includes descriptions of the public perception of the issue and identifies in all the subparts the main difficulties encountered regarding the topics analysed. He describes the influences of political science concepts such as constructivist and realist approaches and identifies relevant economic concepts such as the neo-functionalist and the realist approach. He always identifies the position of the major political forces and squarely addresses the core issues such as: what would Switzerland’s EU budget contribution amount to? Would Switzerland switch the Euro instead of the Swiss franc?

In chapter 10: Conclusions: Interesting Paradoxes Schwok uncovers a certain number of interesting points and paradoxes which are ever present in the discussion of the issue of the full accession of Switzerland. These paradoxes are: Switzerland is sometimes more integrated than some EU member states, the bilateral agreements are not original from a legal point of view and the Swiss case defies a number of theories.

c) Text

You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here:
E_2.13_SCHWOK_Why Switzerland refused-conclusions

© Prof. Jens Drolshammer, office@drolshammer.com,  www.drolshammer.net

Comments (0)