Commissioner Reding: EU Single Market Not Swiss Cheese

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | February 10, 2014, Monday // 09:08| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: Commissioner Reding: EU Single Market Not Swiss Cheese Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenships. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The European Union has said it will reassess ties with Switzerland after voters there backed plans to restrict migration from the EU.

The vote comes amid increasing debate across Europe about migration and the impact of free movement of people.

"The single market is not a Swiss cheese," Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and European commissioner for justice, told the Financial Times. "You cannot have a single market with holes in it. Business people will make their cost-benefit analysis and decide where to establish their companies."

It was one of Switzerland's closest votes in years and counting the ballots took an unexpectedly long time.

But in the end the "yeses" to immigration quotas just managed to outnumber the "nos".

The vote reflects the deep division in Switzerland over the impact of immigration. One in four people in the country are foreign and while business leaders say they need highly qualified workers from across Europe, Swiss voters are worried their country is becoming just too crowded.

Switzerland's system of direct democracy means that the people always have the final say.

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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Tags: Migration, immigration, quota, EC, EU, migrants, Switzerland, Viviane Reding, European Union
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