Tuesday

17th Oct 2017

Swiss hope to salvage EU agreements despite immigrant cap

The Swiss government will try to salvage its bilateral programmes with the EU, which are under threat after voters backed plans to cap EU migration, the country's economy minister has said.

"We have to reconcile the popular vote and the free movement of persons, also in order to save the bilateral agreements," Johann Schneider-Ammann told the SonntagsZeitung in an interview on Sunday (2 March).

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.

  • Swiss voters backed strict curbs to EU immigration in a referendum in February (Photo: Lars Francke)

Swiss voters backed plans to reintroduce annual immigration quotas by a narrow majority in a referendum on 9 February, overturning at a stroke a 12-year-old agreement allowing Swiss and EU citizens to cross the border freely and to work on either side.

The initiative leaves the decision on the quota level in the hands of the Swiss government, which has three years to translate the vote into law, and which has promised to draft a bill to limit immigration by the end of the year.

Around 450,000 Swiss citizens exercise their right to live and work in the EU, while nearly 1.2 million EU citizens live in Switzerland.

However, the EU-Swiss pact on free movement sits alongside a series of bilateral agreements on goods and services which are now under threat.

Last week, the EU said it had suspended Switzerland's participation in its multi-billion-euro Horizon 2020 research programme and its Erasmus student exchange scheme. The bloc has also halted talks on integrating Switzerland's utility firms into the EU energy market.

Schneider-Ammann met with business leaders on Saturday, who urged him to keep restrictions on free movement to a bare minimum in a bid to minimise the effects on the country's economy.

Both the government and business groups had urged voters to reject the curbs to immigration put forward by the eurosceptic Swiss People's Party.

Economic analysts have forecast that any restrictions on Swiss firms' access to the EU's single market, particularly for its substantial banking and pharmaceutical industries, will limit the country's growth prospects.

In a nod to this, the minister added that "there is no sustainable growth without immigration."

Swiss result sharpens EU immigration debate

As EU governments consider how to react to the Swiss referendum, opponents of immigration inside the Union claim the result represents widespread feeling in Europe.

Swiss eyeing EU research money despite referendum

Switzerland is pushing to be 'de facto' accepted in multi-billion EU programmes on science, but the EU commission says it would be illegal after Switzerland's anti-migration referendum.

Swiss voters reject immigration cap

Switzerland has rejected a plan to cut net immigration to no more than 0.2 percent of the population, following a referendum on Sunday.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish Court declares Catalan referendum law void
  2. EU to keep 'Dieselgate' letter secret
  3. No deal yet on Mediterranean alliance for EU agencies
  4. EU Commission condemns Maltese journalist's murder
  5. Poland denies wrongdoing over forest logging
  6. Risk to asylum kids in EU increasing, says charity
  7. Schroeder warns of Turkey and Russia drifting towards China
  8. EU parliament wants equal pay for posted workers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU rejects UK claim it's slowing Brexit talks
  2. Nepal troops arrive in Libya to guard UN refugee agency
  3. Is Banking Authority HQ the Brexit 'booby prize'?
  4. EU-Russia trade bouncing back - despite sanctions
  5. No sign of Brexit speed-up after May-Juncker dinner
  6. EU defence strategy 'outsourced' to arms industry
  7. EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says
  8. Malta in shock after car bomb kills crusading journalist