Switzerland has been negotiating with the EU on a bilateral agreement in the electricity sector since 2007. In autumn 2010, the Federal Council expanded the negotiation mandate, which now encompasses the latest legal developments in the EU, including the third internal energy market package, and is intended to result in a long-term and comprehensive energy agreement with the EU. For both sides, the main focus is on supply security, which in view of the heavily networked energy sector cannot be achieved by any individual country on its own. An agreement between Switzerland and the EU therefore needs to regulate cross-border electricity trading, harmonise safety standards, secure free market access and guarantee Switzerland's membership in the various committees.
The expanded mandate also facilitates the incorporation of the EU Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources into the negotiations. This means that Switzerland would be able to position itself in the area of renewable energy throughout Europe, which could open up new business opportunities for the Swiss electricity and clean-tech sectors. Furthermore, the above-mentioned Directive would also result in the mutual recognition of certificates of origin for electricity from renewable sources such as water, wind and the sun.