Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

EU eyes 'specific' Swiss deal on migrants

  • Juncker: "We have Britain in mind, because these questions are interlinked" (Photo: EUobserver)

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.

The commission head, Jean-Claude Juncker, issued the comment after a meeting with Swiss president Johann Schneider-Ammann in Zurich on Monday (19 September).

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

“We’ve moved closer on some points. That the [Swiss] government wants to privilege Swiss employees on the job market is OK for me if it takes in the framework of mutual recognition”, he said, referring to the "mutual" pact that governed EU-Swiss relations. “This will be possible without a doubt”.

The talks come after Switzerland, in a referendum in 2014, rejected EU free movement putting in jeopardy the country’s access to the single market.

A parliament panel later rejected the idea of imposing unilateral quotas on EU workers, with the lower house, on Wednesday to look at the job “privilege” proposal for Swiss residents instead.

Juncker did not give further details on what the deal would look like.

But he said he was “more optimistic” than in recent weeks and that the talks were moving in “the right direction” on what he called a “Swiss-specific arrangement”.

He noted that, during the Swiss negotiations, “we have Britain in mind, because these questions are interlinked”. He also said that Brexit was “another element adding to the difficult issues we have to discuss with our Swiss friends”.

The UK, which is expected to start talks on the terms of its EU exit next year, has said it wanted a “unique” deal that would allow it to impose immigration controls while keeping access to the EU market.

But most EU politicians, including Juncker himself, have so far insisted on full access for EU workers in return for the market perks for fear of creating a precedent for other eurosceptic member states.

Meanwhile, Switzerland's Schneider-Ammann also sounded a positive note on EU relations on Monday, saying: “We need a solution that both sides can say ‘Yes’ to. I’m confident that we can do it”.

He added that he was concerned that Swiss firms and institutes would lose access to the EU’s Horizon 2020 scientific research grants if there was no accord.

EU and Switzerland agree on free movement

EU states approved a new Swiss law that will allow EU citizens to work freely in Switzerland despite a 2014 referendum on immigration quotas.

Eight EU states take migrants stranded on NGO boats

France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania have agreed to relocate the 49 migrants stuck on two NGO boats moored, for almost three weeks, off Malta's coast.

NGO Mediterranean rescue standoff exposes EU rift

Conditions on the Dutch flagged Sea-Watch 3, an NGO boat with 32 rescued migrants onboard, continue to deteriorate - as EU states refuse to take them in. The youngest on board is a one-year old infant.

Analysis

Goodnight, Vienna! Mixed bag from Austrian presidency

When Austria took over the EU presidency, chancellor Sebastian Kurz declared that his government - in a coalition with the far-right FPO - would use its six-months tenure to promote what he called "a Europe that protects".

News in Brief

  1. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  2. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  3. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  4. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  5. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  6. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  7. German economy hit by global economic turbulence
  8. MEPs narrowly call for end to 'tampon tax'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  2. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  3. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  4. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  5. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment
  6. Trump's wall vs Europe's sea
  7. Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret
  8. Germany scorns 'unusual' US threat on Russia pipeline

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us