Thursday

21st Jun 2018

Swiss referendum may jeopardise EU single market accord

  • The campaign says it wants to 'stop mass immigration' (Photo: masseneinwanderung.ch)

Swiss voters will on Sunday (9 February) vote on capping immigration, in a move which could trigger Switzerland's exclusion from the EU single market.

An initiative "against mass immigration,” co-sponsored by the populist-conservative Swiss People's Party, is calling for the reintroduction of migrant quotas - a de facto abolition of the freedom of movement enshrined in the EU’s single market accord with Switzerland.

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If voters say Yes, the Alpine country's entire set of EU relations could be suspended under a guillotine clause which can be triggered if any part of the EU-Swiss agreement is violated.

The No-camp is currently polling at 50 percent, while proponents of the move have 43 percent.

The referendum target refugees, and economic migrants from poorer EU member states, but will also hit, for instance, well-heeled Germans who reside in Switzerland to pay less tax.

Some 300,000 Germans currently live in Swizterland, which has a total population of 8 million.

"How many Germans can Switzerland take?" the Swiss tabloid, Blick, asked already last year.

If the Yes vote succeeds, all newcomers will fall under strictly capped "contingents.”

The details would have to be negotiated with the EU in a process that is supposed to take no more than three years.

In the worst case scenario, Switzerland's exclusion from the single market could harm its economy, as 55 percent of its exports go to EU countries.

But the Swiss People's Party is saying that the UK may exit the EU in 2017, creating new conditions in any EU-Swiss talks.

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.

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.

Hungary to push ahead with 'Stop Soros' law on NGOs

The Hungarian government of Viktor Orban has said it will not wait until Friday, to hear a verdict of European legal experts on human rights, before going ahead with its bill curtailing NGOs who work with migrants.

Poland urged to halt 'purge' of top court

Next month Supreme Court judges could be removed in Poland - due to a controversial reform seen as a judicial purge by a government that wants to control the courts. The European Commission wants Warsaw to act now.

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