EU and Switzerland need to reach agreement ‘quickly’ on Swiss immigration referendum, says president of European Parliament

By on 01/07/2016 | Updated on 24/09/2020
European Parliament president, Martin Schulz
European Parliament president, Martin Schulz

Switzerland and the European Union have to find a solution fast on how to act on a Swiss referendum voting in favour of bringing back strict quotas for immigration from EU countries, European Parliament president Martin Schulz has said.

In February 2014, Swiss citizens voted in favour of the measures, which had been proposed by the national conservative Swiss People’s Party.

However, any measures to limit immigration would invalidate agreements on freedom of movement between the EU and Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, but has adopted large sections of EU policy.

Now, Schulz told Swiss television channel SRF that “we have to reach agreements with Switzerland now relatively quickly.”

These talks, he said, will not get easier, because “free movement of  people now plays a bigger role, in light of the imminent Brexit negotiations.”

He added: “We have to find a solution with Switzerland because we need each other.

“I believe Switzerland [needs] the EU a bit more than the other way round.”

Switzerland has until February to implement the binding 2014 referendum demanding limits on the influx of foreigners into a country whose population is already a quarter foreign.

It needs a deal by summer to have legislation in place.

But with the EU preoccupied with the loss of major member Britain, chances are fading for a quick deal that would allow outsider Switzerland to implement the referendum without infringing bilateral treaties guaranteeing the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the EU.

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About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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