2nd Jun 2020

Swiss welcome new member state workers

  • Brussels has welcomed the result (Photo: EUobserver)

Swiss voters on Sunday voted with a clear majority to open the country's borders to workers from the EU's central and eastern European member states.

In a referendum, 56 percent voted in favour of government plans to extend an agreement with Brussels on the free movement of people to the new member states.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The vote comes as a relief to Brussels, which had been bracing itself for a rejection of the opening of the borders.

"This vote demonstrates that Switzerland and the EU work together successfully to promote the integration of our people and our economies and to strengthen the cohesion of Europe", said commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

If the Swiss had voted no, it would have put a strain on the country's bilateral relations with the EU and ruptured a series of agreements between Berne and Brussels covering trade and justice and home affairs.

Welcoming the vote, Swiss president Samuel Schmid said "The government is very pleased with the result".

"Today's vote is extremely important, namely for economic growth and the protection of workers", he added.

In the run up to the vote, some politicians had been warning that a yes vote would mean that Switzerland would be flooded with cheap labour from the east.

The yes vote means that Swiss citizens have the right to live anywhere in the EU, while EU citizens may also work and live in Switzerland if they have the means to support themselves.

Previously this arrangement applied only to the 15 'old' member states.

Switzerland has had a series of referendums on the EU. At the last one, in June, the alpine country voted in favour of joining the EU's Schengen zone, its borderless area.

Jourova: Ease emergency powers - especially Hungary

The EU commission vice-president said that as member states relax lockdwon measures, it is time to roll back the state of emergencies that affect democracy and fundamental rights. Hungary said it might end extra powers in June.

Commission struggles with German court challenge

While the EU commission has suggested there could be EU probes becasue of the German consitutional court's decision, chancellor Angela Merkel argued to her party that a clash is avoidable.

Bucharest and Budapest in 'autonomy' region row

Budapest and Bucharest are engaged in a war of words over the heavily-Hungarian region of Szeklerland, part of Romania's Transylvania. But is a row over autonomy just cover to overshadow the corona virus crisis?

Hungary and Poland in spotlight for lockdown moves

The EU commission is double-checking emergency measures in every member state, as fundamental rights have been temporarily abrogated. But Hungary and Poland are problematic, yet no actions are planned.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens to use army to crush unrest in US
  2. Trump wants Russia back in G7-type group
  3. Iran: Fears of second wave as corona numbers rise again
  4. WHO: Overuse of antibiotics to strengthen bacterial resistance
  5. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  6. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  7. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  8. France reopening bars and parks next week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Malta fiddles on migrants, as Libya burns
  2. Borrell: EU doesn't need to choose between US and China
  3. Post-Brexit and summer travel talks This WEEK
  4. State-level espionage on EU tagged as 'Very High Threat'
  5. Beethoven vs Virus: How his birthplace Bonn is coping
  6. EU's new migration pact must protect people on the move
  7. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  8. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us