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19. sep 2002 - In the seventh round of negotiations which took place in Bern today the delegations from the EU and Switzerland continued their discussions. Possible solutions were discussed which would on the one hand respect the Swiss legal principle of double criminality and on the other hand also take into account the concerns held by the EU. The negotiations took place in a constructive and productive atmosphere. No breakthrough was reached although the delegations agreed to continue the discussions at later date.
At the seventh round of negotiations it was possible to overcome the deadlock which occurred in the spring. Both sides are making constructive efforts to find a solution, which takes into account the core concerns of both parties. Switzerland reiterated its wish to combat cases of fraud in an effective manner on the basis of its own legislation when sufficient substantiated evidence of wrongdoing exists. Solutions to combat money laundering should also be sought in conjunction with this dossier. In addition Switzerland is willing to speed up the appeals procedure by limiting it to one appeal and introducing the delegation of criminal prosecution and extradition for serious cases of tax fraud. The Swiss proposal therefore envisages far-reaching solutions which extend beyond customs fraud and include offences detrimental to the contracting parties.
Switzerland, however, is only prepared to accept the EU’s concerns to that extent on condition that it retains the principle of double criminality. This would mean that in this context enforcement measures under mutual legal assistance law can only be requested when the offence concerned is punishable with a custodial sentence in both the requesting state and in the state to which the request is made.
In terms of progress, the 7th round of negotiations brought further convergence.
Differences still remain namely with regard to double criminality and its legal implementation. It has been agreed that a further meeting will take place in Brussels on 18th October 2002.
Further details from 4pm, 19.09.02: Director-General of Customs. Rudolf Dietrich, Head of the Swiss Delegation, Tel. 031 3226501
19 Sep 2002
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