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Switzerland Votes to Narrow Immigration Pipeline From EU Countries

Posted on Feb 9, 2014

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That old saw about Swiss independence could in part explain Switzerland’s vote, held Sunday, in favor of tightening restrictions on immigration into the country from European Union member nations.

Or perhaps other driving influences (hint: the economy, stupid) were at work. Regardless, the proposal passed with 50.3 percent supporting more stringent quotas on entry to Switzerland from the EU. The BBC analyzed the significance of the referendum after Sunday’s tally: 

The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says the vote has shown up traditional divisions, with French-speaking areas against the quotas, German-speaking regions divided, and the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino firmly in favour.

A Yes vote means Swiss ministers will have some tricky explaining to do in Brussels, our correspondent says.

[...] In a statement, the European Commission said it regretted that an “initiative for the introduction of quantitative limits to immigration has been passed by this vote.

“This goes against the principle of free movement of persons between the EU and Switzerland. The EU will examine the implications of this initiative on EU-Swiss relations as a whole. In this context, the Federal Council’s position on the result will also be taken into account.”

However, as the Beeb also noted, there could yet be legislative push-back on this referendum, issuing in part from the conservative Swiss People’s Party, which “now wants to reverse this deal, saying it was a huge mistake.” Watch this space.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson


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