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Reconciling Equivalence and Non-discrimination under the SPS Agreement in Swiss–EU Relations (Laia Roxane Guardiola)

Equivalence assessments constitute a central component of the bilateral relationship between Switzerland and the EU. As Switzerland recently rejected the conclusion of the Institutional Agreement, which the EU made a prerequisite for any renewals and extensions of equivalence assessments, the question arises whether Switzerland could claim recognition of equivalence based on WTO law. Unlike other WTO Agreements, the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) contains an obligation to accept equivalent measures. This article aims to generate an understanding of equivalence by examining the SPS Agreement’s provisions on equivalence (Article 4) and non-discrimination (Articles 5.5 and 2.3) and their interrelationship in detail. It will be shown that although these provisions have some potential to promote recognition of equivalence between WTO Members, Switzerland will not find a solution to the current political impasse in the SPS Agreement.