(REUTERS) – Switzerland hopes to have a like-minded ally outside the European Union once Britain leaves the EU, a top Swiss diplomat told the Neue Zuercher Zeitung newspaper.
“One advantage of (Britain’s) withdrawal is that hopefully we will have a good partner outside of the EU with similar focus when it comes to open markets and regulation,” Joerg Gasser, head of the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, said in the NZZ interview published on Friday.
However, Gasser said there was little prospect in the foreseeable future for any concrete agreement between Britain and neutral Switzerland, which is not part of the 28-member EU.
“The British say they are not doing anything before their relationship with the EU is clarified,” Gasser was quoted as saying.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said this month she would trigger the process to leave the EU by the end of March.
Using Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty will give Britain a two-year period to clinch one of the most complex deals in Europe since World War Two.
(Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Dominic Evans)