In the financial sector, SIF is committed to ensuring that, within the framework of equivalence procedures, the EU takes account of Switzerland's special position in contractual and economic terms and of its efforts to achieve partial approximation of the relevant legal provisions. This should ensure that Swiss providers are offered the possibilities of the equivalences processes under objective and transparent conditions. In the tax sector, Switzerland and the EU member states signed a mutual understanding on corporate taxation in 2014. It marked the conclusion of the tax dialogue that began in 2012. In the understanding, Switzerland undertook to abolish five tax regimes, while the EU member states reaffirmed their intention to abolish any countermeasures taken once the tax regimes had been abolished. The tax regimes are to be abolished in the wake of tax proposal 17.
In the financial sector
Numerous EU legislative acts in financial market law include provisions which regulate the relationship with third countries. These provisions regularly provide for market access and/or reduced prudential requirements if the third country has equivalent regulation (equivalence). In its report on financial market policy for a competitive Swiss financial centre, published in 2016, the Federal Council identified precisely these equivalence procedures as an important element for maintaining and improving market access for Swiss providers in the EU area. To this end, recognition of the equivalence of Swiss financial market regulation should be achieved with the EU where this makes economic sense.
In recent years, recognition of the equivalence of the Swiss legal framework has already been obtained from the EU, particularly in the following areas:
- Recognition of Swiss central counterparty regulation (2015);
- Recognition of the equivalence of Swiss rules for the solvency of insurance companies (2015);
- Recognition of Swiss trading venues (2017): with the decision of the EU Commission of December 2017 on the recognition of Swiss trading venues (in accordance with Article 23 of Regulation (EU) No. 600/2014 of the European Parliament and Council of 15 May 2014 on markets in financial instruments and amending Regulation (EU) No. 648/2012 (MiFIR]), EU investment firms can trade securities traded in the EU on Swiss stock exchanges until the end of 2018. The Federal Council underlined in a statement that Switzerland fulfils the conditions for recognition of stock market equivalence every bit as much as other third countries that have been granted indefinite recognition (press release).
SIF is particularly committed to the rapid initiation and conclusion of further equivalence procedures in the following areas:
- Recognition of Swiss trading venues beyond 2018 (in accordance with Article 23 of the MiFIR);
- Recognition of Swiss derivatives regulation (in accordance with Article 13 of Regulation (EU) No. 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on OTC derivatives, central counterparties and trade repositories [EMIR]);
- Extension of the EU passport for managers of alternative investment funds to third countries (in accordance with Article 67 of Directive 2011/61/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2011 on Alternative Investment Fund Managers and amending Directives 2003/41/EC and 2009/65/EC and Regulations (EC) No 1060/2009 and (EU) No 1095/2010 [AIFMD]);
- Procedure for cross-border transactions with professional investors in accordance with Articles 46/47 of the MiFIR.
Among other things, the annual regulatory dialogue between the EU Commission and SIF provides an opportunity to take up this issue and to discuss the progress made in the equivalence procedures.
In the tax sector
Back in 2007, with regard to corporate taxation, the European Commission had already criticised certain cantonal tax practices as constituting illegal state aid. In June 2010, the EU proposed establishing a dialogue with Switzerland on its code of conduct for business taxation. The Federal Council adopted a mandate concerning this dialogue on 4 July 2012. This dialogue aimed to find an internationally accepted solution which would increase the competitiveness of Switzerland as a business location while taking account of the budgetary situation of the Confederation and the cantons.
On 14 October 2014, Switzerland and the 28 EU member states signed a joint statement on business taxation, thereby putting an end to a controversy which had put a strain on relations between Switzerland and the EU for a number of years. Switzerland undertook to abolish five tax regimes (domiciliary, mixed and holding companies, the FTA circular no. 8 concerning principal companies and the FTA's practice concerning the Swiss finance branch), while the EU members states confirmed that they would lift any countermeasures taken against these regimes as soon as the regimes in question had been abolished. The new tax measures will be based on OECD international standards.
The third series of corporate tax reforms (CTR III), rejected by voters in the referendum on 12 February 2017, made provision for the abolition of these regimes. Tax proposal 17 maintains this objective.
Last modification 07.09.2018