25th Jun 2022

Swiss welcome new member state workers

  • Brussels has welcomed the result (Photo: EUobserver)

Swiss voters on Sunday voted with a clear majority to open the country's borders to workers from the EU's central and eastern European member states.

In a referendum, 56 percent voted in favour of government plans to extend an agreement with Brussels on the free movement of people to the new member states.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The vote comes as a relief to Brussels, which had been bracing itself for a rejection of the opening of the borders.

"This vote demonstrates that Switzerland and the EU work together successfully to promote the integration of our people and our economies and to strengthen the cohesion of Europe", said commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

If the Swiss had voted no, it would have put a strain on the country's bilateral relations with the EU and ruptured a series of agreements between Berne and Brussels covering trade and justice and home affairs.

Welcoming the vote, Swiss president Samuel Schmid said "The government is very pleased with the result".

"Today's vote is extremely important, namely for economic growth and the protection of workers", he added.

In the run up to the vote, some politicians had been warning that a yes vote would mean that Switzerland would be flooded with cheap labour from the east.

The yes vote means that Swiss citizens have the right to live anywhere in the EU, while EU citizens may also work and live in Switzerland if they have the means to support themselves.

Previously this arrangement applied only to the 15 'old' member states.

Switzerland has had a series of referendums on the EU. At the last one, in June, the alpine country voted in favour of joining the EU's Schengen zone, its borderless area.

EU opens door to Ukraine in 'geopolitical' summit

EU leaders will also discuss eurozone issues with European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde, as more and more leaders are worried about voters' distress at soaring inflation.

EU parliament revokes Russian lobbyist badges

After months of stalled negotiations to remove Russian lobbyists from the EU's joint-transparency register, the European Parliament has decided to go solo and unilaterally bar them from its premises.

News in Brief

  1. Belgian PM: Gas shortage requires joint response
  2. Bulgarian MPs set conditions for lifting enlargement veto
  3. Latvia: We need a brigade-size Nato force to 'feel safe'
  4. Deal reached on controversial energy treaty reform
  5. EU carbon emissions from energy up 6% in 2021
  6. Germany step closer to gas rationing
  7. Albania: EU 'disgrace' at lack of enlargement progress
  8. 'Serious blow' to EU credibility over North Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us