The EU Council of Ministers has given the go-ahead for talks with Switzerland to forge a trade liberalisation deal for processed food.

An agreement would build on the existing free trade deal on food commodities between the EU and Switzerland, which has steadfastly refused to become a member state.

The European Commission will handle the talks for the EU. A council communiqué said “the liberalisation of trade in processed agricultural products” would be secured “in view of the full liberalisation of bilateral trade in the agri-food sector”.

The EU and Switzerland also have existing agreements on food health issues.