Wednesday

25th Apr 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".

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Secrecy of VW fraud report 'unacceptable', says MEP

Finnish MEP Heidi Hautala won a trailblazing court case two decades ago for the right of EU citizens to receive 'partial access' to documents. Now she says it is "outrageous" the European Investment Bank is refusing to release Volkswagen documents.

News in Brief

  1. Far-right attack migrants on Greek island
  2. Merkel defends accepting UN refugees
  3. EU commissioner plans Malta 'money laundering' inspection
  4. Survey: Half of high polluting farms receive CAP subsidies
  5. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  6. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  7. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  8. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  4. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  6. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  7. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight

Latest News

  1. EU in race to set global AI ethics standards
  2. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  3. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ
  4. How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?
  5. MEPs tell Chinese ambassador of concerns on trade
  6. Greenland votes with eye on independence
  7. EU court delivers blow to anti-abortion activists
  8. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack