Wednesday

18th Jul 2018

New Swiss vote on immigration 'inevitable', EU says

  • Switzerland wants to introduce immigration quotas after a February 2014 referendum (Photo: masseneinwanderung.ch)

A year after Switzerland voted "against mass immigration", the EU is asking for a new referendum on the subject if the country wants to resume normal relations.

In an interview with Swiss newspaper La Liberte, EU diplomat Maciej Popowski said that a new referendum is "inevitable, probably at the end of 2016".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

Switzerland must "change logic", said Popowski, who is deputy secretary general of the EU diplomatic service and in charge of negotiations with the confederation.

"Rather than thinking about what they could still get, it might be useful that the Swiss see the enormous advantages they have by participating in the internal market, which they take for granted," he added.

In February 2014, Swiss voters backed a popular initiative "against mass immigration" presented by the populist Swiss People’s Party.

As a result, the Swiss government presented legislation to introduce immigration quotas in 2017, including for cross-border workers.

The confederation also wants to renegotiate its 2004 freedom of movement pact with the EU, under which it became a member of the EU's passport-free Schengen Area in 2008.


The EU has ruled out changes, however. Last December, it "reconfirm[ed] the negative reply in July 2014 to the Swiss request to renegotiate the agreement".

The EU "considers that the free movement of persons is a fundamental pillar of EU policy and that the internal market and its four freedoms are indivisible," EU ministers said in a statement in December 2014.

Agreements in other sectors, such as the electricity market or integration of Switzerland into the EU financial services market, also depend Swiss compliance, Popowski told La Liberte.

"No lasting agreement will be signed before institutional issues are settled. And no definitive agreement will be reached before the problem of free circulation is solved," he added.

EU warns Switzerland after anti-migrant vote

Swiss voters have backed a call to cap migration from EU countries - a move which could trigger the exclusion of the Alpine country from the EU internal market.

Switzerland threatens EU immigration quota

The Swiss government announced it would limit immigration from EU countries with a unilateral quota by March 2016 if it is unable to strike a deal with the EU.

Investigation

Commission accused of cherry picking job applicants

A pilot project scheme is giving preferential treatment for interns to land highly sought-after jobs at the European Commission - bypassing the lengthy open competition for everyone else seeking the same position.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us