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Switzerland rejects Croatia free movement deal after immigration referendum

Published time: February 16, 2014 17:38
The posters reads: "Open access for all? - No!" by  Swiss People's Party (SVP) (Reuters / Arnd Wiegmann)

The posters reads: "Open access for all? - No!" by Swiss People's Party (SVP) (Reuters / Arnd Wiegmann)

Switzerland has refused to sign a protracted deal with Croatia, initially agreed over a year ago, which would have given Croatians unrestricted access to the Swiss employment market. The Swiss say it’s not viable “in its current form”.

Simultaneously, the Swiss People's Party (SVP) has called on Switzerland’s government to quickly limit immigration to the country from Eastern Europe. Toni Brunner, SVP President, told Swiss newspaper, Schweiz am Sonntag, that the government needed to apply temporary immigration limits to eight Eastern European countries whose immigration limits are to expire in June.

Both Switzerland and Croatia were prepared to enshrine the bilateral deal into law after Croatia joined the EU last summer. However, Switzerland has since backed out of a ‘freedom of movement’ deal with the EU after a referendum, and immigration quotas have been reinstated, the deal as it stood will not be signed.

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga made a telephone call to Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic to pass on the news that Switzerland would be unable to sign the deal, also informing Brussels that the potential agreement would need to be amended, according to Sommaruga’s spokesman, Philippe Schwander.

A week ago, Switzerland voted 50.3 percent in favor of limiting annual migration from the EU, thus ending the policy of free movement within the bloc that was established in 2002. Switzerland is not a member of the EU and remains vehement about its independence, and was thus able to bring back the quotas despite having assimilated other chunks of EU policy.

Many in Switzerland - which is surrounded by the EU but is not a member - believe that rising immigration levels are putting pressure on infrastructure, rent prices, the social security system, and unemployment rates.

The SVP party has been campaigning for the amendment, saying that immigrants are destroying the nation’s Alpine identity and taking away skilled jobs.

“Many people feel this is challenging their identity, even if there isn't any concrete economic impact on a personal level,” Georg Lutz, professor of political science at the University of Lausanne Georg, told Reuters just before the results of the vote were revealed.

The economic impact remains to be seen; half of Swiss exports go to the EU, with the county’s primary trading partner being Germany. Around 25 percent of the Swiss population is considered ‘foreign’ and some 80,000 new immigrants arrived across 2013 alone.

While the SVP and fellow supporters of the referendum believe salaries are kept low and public services suffer because of the influx.

“The Swiss population knows better than the government or the administration what the problems with immigration really are. The government has to seek talks with the EU immediately and re-negotiate the free movement of people accord,” stated People’s Party, president Toni Brunner after results were announced.

European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, told the Swiss on Thursday that free movement was non-negotiable. “We will not negotiate on the principle of free movement,” he said.

The Swiss government stated earlier this week that it would be presenting a plan on how to implement the referendum results ‘before July’ and new legislation would be proposed by the end of the year, according to AFP.

Comments (17)

 

Andrew 17.02.2014 13:23

Vercingetorix 17.02.2014 13:05

[quote name='Andrew' time='17.02.2014 12:02']

I agree. Nothing is given to nobody, EU is not a charity association. Our political elites are responsible for the catastrophic economical and political situation. They sold our sovereignty long before we entered the EU. And without sovereignty there is no prosperity and no democracy. Crucial state's propriety (INA-an oil company, banks, telecommunications and so forth) were sold (given) to foreigners. We are slaves in our "own" conutry. But there is still hope.

  


But I agree, there's still hope.

 

Andrew 17.02.2014 13:23

Vercingetorix 17.02.2014 13:05

[quote name='Andrew' time='17.02.2014 12:02']Crucial state's propriety (INA-an oil company, banks, telecommunications and so forth) were sold (given) to foreigners. We are slaves in our "own" conutry. But there is still hope.

  


Elimination of states' sovereignty was spoken out by Aurelio Peccei (the founder of the Club of Rome) as a necessary condition for 'sustainable development' of the global society. And 'sustainable development' is one of the most freguent phrases in the Agenda 21. Now you can see what it means in reality.

 

Vercingetorix 17.02.2014 13:05

[quote name='Andrew' time='17.02.2014 12:02']

I agree. Nothing is given to nobody, EU is not a charity association. Our political elites are responsible for the catastrophic economical and political situation. They sold our sovereignty long before we entered the EU. And without sovereignty there is no prosperity and no democracy. Crucial state's propriety (INA-an oil company, banks, telecommunications and so forth) were sold (given) to foreigners. We are slaves in our "own" conutry. But there is still hope.

View all comments (17)
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