Germany, France: Vote for Immigration Quotas to Hurt Switzerland

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | February 10, 2014, Monday // 13:28| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Germany, France: Vote for Immigration Quotas to Hurt Switzerland Ballots are counted in Zurich after the vote on the initiative `Against Mass Immigration` launched by the Swiss People`s Party. Photo by EPA/BGNES

France and Germany have voiced concern about Switzerland's vote to bring back strict quotas for immigration from European Union countries.

Final results showed 50.3% voted in favour. The vote invalidates the Swiss-EU agreement on freedom of movement.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the vote would cause "a host of difficulties for Switzerland".

The German foreign minister said the vote had to be taken seriously: "This proves a little bit that in this globalised world people feel more discomfort towards unlimited free movement of person."

European Parliament President Martin Schulz - a German Socialist - expressed disappointment over the vote. He said the EU would "perhaps [have] to renegotiate the agreement" with Switzerland. But he warned that unpicking freedom of movement from other single market freedoms, for example services, would be difficult.

"It is up to the Switzerland government to decide if they want to suspend the agreements with us or not."

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said "it will hurt Switzerland to be inward-looking".

Fabius told French radio it was bad news "both for Europe and the Swiss". Europe "was going to review its relations" with Switzerland, he added.

After 50.3% of voters backed an initiative put forward by the ultraconservative Swiss People's party (SVP), the government will now have to extend a quota system in place for non-EU nationals to cover arrivals from the bloc.

After Switzerland made it clear it does not want to be part of the free movement of people any more, Brussels said it will examine the implications for EU-Swiss relations as a whole.

That means that all Switzerland's other treaties with the EU are at risk, including its access to the crucial single market, where half of all EU exports are sold.

Reporters say some Swiss are already wondering whether the long-term consequences of rejecting the free movement are worse than those of accepting it.

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