Home / World / Switzerland firmly rejects the end of free movement with the EU projection

Switzerland firmly rejects the end of free movement with the EU projection

Poster against the motion in a hotel in the capital Bern

copyright of the imageEPA

image captionOpponents of the plan say it will damage relations with the EU

Swiss voters in a referendum rejected a proposal to end an agreement with the EU on the free movement of persons, the TV screenings suggest.

Broadcasting SRF said voters would reject the plan by 63 percent to 37 percent.

The ballots are still being counted and the final results are due within hours.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but it currently accepts free movement so it can have access to free trade and cooperate with Brussels in areas such as transport and education.

The proposal came from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and was the successor to a 2014 referendum to introduce quotas for immigrants from the EU, which have narrowly passed.

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Supporters of the anti-freedom of movement plan said it would allow Switzerland to control its borders and select only the immigrants it wishes.

Opponents argued that it would precipitate a healthy economy into recession and deprive hundreds of thousands of Swiss citizens of their freedom to live and work across Europe.

copyright of the imageReuters
image captionThe push to abandon the freedom of movement agreement comes from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party

People also voted on a number of other issues.

They seem to have supported paternity leave for new fathers and turned down a proposal to make hunting protected species like wolves easier.

What are the possible consequences for Brexit?

The Swiss referendum was already in preparation before the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016.

The UDC has used Brexiteers-like arguments about having more control over immigration in a country that, according to them, is becoming more overcrowded and expensive as a result.

But net migration to Switzerland is currently on the decline, and there is a sense that voters are getting tired of the party’s anti-immigration message.

Imogen Foulkes of the BBC in Geneva says that a resounding yes to free movement of persons could strengthen Brussels’ hand with London and be a signal to the UK of what kind of compromises it might need to agree on a free trade agreement with the EU. .

Chronology: Switzerland and the EU

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1992: Swiss vote 50.3% to 49.7% against joining the European Economic Area – first step towards EU membership

1992-2002: Switzerland negotiates, then signs the first bilateral agreements with the EU – they are interdependent and include the free movement of people – backed by a vote in 2000

2005: Swiss vote to join the European Schengen treaty on open borders and extend free movement to 10 new EU states

2009: Vote to extend freedom of movement to new EU members Romania and Bulgaria

2014: Switzerland barely supports quotas for EU workers

Related topics

  • Switzerland

  • Immigration
  • European Union
  • Global trade

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