The online magazine of the Swiss Bankers Association
April 04, 2019


A continued bilateral approach with the EU is important

A continued bilateral approach with the EU is important

It is very important for the Swiss banking sector, but also the overall economy, that the relationships with the EU be on solid footing. The SBA therefore supports the institutional agreement with the EU (“InstA”). The SBA also calls for concrete improvements to market access, in particular for the banking sector, to be addressed as part of the further discussions with the EU.

The banking sector has a keen interest in continuing the successful bilateral approach with the EU. As a major export industry, the banks are reliant on market access. At present, however, the banks have only limited access to the EU market. The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) therefore supports the conclusion of the institutional agreement with the EU (InstA).

InstA necessary for the overall economy and the financial centre

The SBA very much welcomes  the negotiated agreement as a whole. An institutional arrangement with the EU, such as the agreement under discussion, is a decisive step towards reinforcing existing market access for the entire Swiss export industry thanks to new, reliable processes and greater legal certainty. From the point of view of the banks, however, there are still certain points that need to be clarified upon signing. Political leadership is now required at all levels to ensure that the outcome of the negotiations together with the necessary clarifications come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Market access is essential for banks 

For the banking sector, unlike other sectors of the economy, what is involved is not just “further developing” bilateralism, but also ensuring practicable market access. At present, this is largely lacking. The SBA’s expectation is that InstA will lead to a formalisation of the existing EU equivalence processes. This relates not only to stock exchange equivalence but also to other equivalence processes under the current EU third country regime. The SBA expects the proceedings currently in progress to be concluded swiftly.

For the banking sector, what is involved is also ensuring practicable market access.

The fact that active market access is largely lacking today in the area of cross-border banking, securities and investment services, and that the current equivalence processes do not satisfactorily cover this, is often overlooked. Such market access is essential, in particular for the international wealth management business, which is very important for the Swiss financial centre. The SBA sees an InstA as a milestone towards realising the necessary and practicable market access solution for the sector. Concrete steps in this direction are to be agreed with the EU in a roadmap.

The SBA sees an InstA as a Milestone.

Approximately CHF 1,000 billion of assets are managed out of Switzerland for customers in the EU. Around 20,000 bank employees are directly involved in this area of business, which generates an estimated CHF 1.5 billion in taxes annually in Switzerland. There is therefore much at stake.