Today's papers contain some commentary on the negotiations (now more than four years old) between the EU and Switzerland to re-cut the arrangements governing the relationship between the EU and Switzerland, from which it would appear that the EU is seeking to claw-back some of the benefits that have been conceded to Switzerland in 120+ bilateral agreements with the EU.
On the tax side, the arrangements between the EU and Switzerland contain many of the features which corporate groups and businesses would love to see emerge from the Brexit talks. In terms of group structuring alone, the agreement between the EU and Switzerland on the taxation of savings income (which dates back to 2004) contains, in abbreviated-form, the main elements of the EU parent subsidiary directive and the EU interest and royalties directive which, subject to certain conditions, allow dividends, interest and royalties to flow between group members without the imposition of withholding taxes. Without a similar agreement, post-Brexit payment flows between UK companies and members of their groups in EU27 states may become subject to domestic withholding taxes or at least require reclaims to be made under applicable double tax treaties.
Corporate groups can only hope that these issues will be resolved as part of the Brexit negotiations. But, the suggestion is that rather than the Swiss arrangements informing the structure of a post-Brexit deal with the UK, the Brexit negotiations are causing the EU to re-think the existing Swiss agreements. And so, for now at least, the prospects of a Swiss-style Brexit agreement are not looking too rosy.
Switzerland: “not a model”. The text on a January presentation from the EU’s Brexit negotiators could not have been clearer. Do not seek inspiration from Switzerland for post-Brexit relations, the EU was telling the UK, we are not repeating that folly.