Monday

4th Jul 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe 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.

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.

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.

Opinion

Romania — latest EU hotspot in backlash against LGBT rights

Romania isn't the only country portraying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a threat to children. From Poland and Hungary in EU, to reactionary movements around the world are prohibiting portrayals of LGBT people and families in schools.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Ex-Frontex chief 'uninvited' from parliament committee
  2. Czech presidency and key nuclear/gas vote This WEEK
  3. The human rights aspects of Grenoble's 'burkini' controversy
  4. Council must act on core of EU migration package
  5. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  6. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  7. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  8. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us