Friday

19th Oct 2018

EU and Swiss still at odds on migrant quotas

The EU and Switzerland remain split on a Swiss plan to stem the number of migrants from member states.

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Brussels on Monday (21 December) that the two sides are still looking for a solution after Switzerland voted to impose migrant quotas in a referendum in 2014.

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.

... or join as a group

  • Switzerland is set to impose quotas on migrants (Photo: Lars Francke)

"We hope that by February we will be able to set out what progress has been made," he said.

The Swiss referendum has strained bilateral relations, given the free movement principles which underpin the borderless Schengen zone.

Switzerland, while not an EU member state, is part of Schengen.

But the 2014 popular vote introduced annual quantitative limits to immigration, which includes cross-border commuters, asylum seekers, and people looking for work from the EU.

Such limits may undermine the EU-Swiss agreement on free movement. But under Swiss rules, the law must be implemented by February 2017.

"We're still trying to adopt rules on the basis of Article 14(2) of the Free Movement agreement that would allow us to bring our relations with Switzerland in order," said Juncker.

The Swiss Federal Council - its federal executive branch - and EU authorities are trying to reconcile the division.

"We have cleared the ground but we have no solution ... there is still a difficult way to go and a lot of work to be done. We might succeed, we might not," said Swiss president Simonetta Sommaruga.

Earlier this month, the Swiss government instructed the federal department of justice and police to create a "safe guard clause" in case talks fail.

The clause would allow for targetted restrictions on permits for persons from EU states.

Switzerland has more than 100 bilateral agreements with the EU.

If no final deal emerges, Switzerland said it is willing to scrap part or all of its bilateral economic pacts as a last resort, reports Reuters.

According to the European Commission, over 1 million EU citizens live in Switzerland and another 230,000 cross the border daily for work. Some 430,000 Swiss live in the EU.

The EU is Switzerland's largest trade partner. In 2011, the EU accounted for 78 percent of its imports and 57 percent of its exports.

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.

Column / Crude World

Petropolitics 2.0

If oil prices remain depressed long enough, Europe's eastern neighbourhood can quickly become an even more contentious place than it already is.

EU eyes 'specific' Swiss deal on migrants

The European Commission is “OK” to make a “Swiss-specific” pact on immigration, even if it has an impact on upcoming talks with the UK.

Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action

In 2015, internet activist Lyudmila Savchuk went under cover to expose a troll factory in St Petersburg. As the EU summit endorses anti-disinformation action, she told EUobserver the Russian government is bankrolling many more.

News in Brief

  1. EU court orders Poland to suspend firing judges
  2. Japan to focus on circular economy at G20
  3. Italian budget 'significant deviation' from rules, says EU
  4. Podemos initiates debate on legalising marijuana in Spain
  5. Merkel: Focus on banking union at December EU summit
  6. Scotland confirms mad cow disease case
  7. European 'Green surge' set for repeat in Hessen election
  8. Rutte: summit was 'not the moment' for higher climate ambition

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Top EU banks guilty of multi-billion tax fraud
  2. Polish left a glimmer of hope in fight against illiberal democracy
  3. Europe and Asia seek stable relations in troubled times
  4. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa
  5. EU leaders worried about Italy's budget
  6. Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action
  7. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  8. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us