Brussels enraged with Swiss referendum result to keep out EU citizens

Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the European Commission in charge of International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response (second from left), participated in the high-level roundtable on the challenges ahead for the humanitarian action. The "150 years of Humanitarian Action - Addressing today’s challenges" event was organised by the Mission of Switzerland to the EU on the occasion of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the humanitarian action. Besides Kristalina Georgieva, Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC (second from right), Rashid Khalikov, Director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva (first from right), and Nicolas Borsinger, President of the NGO VOICE (Voluntary Organisations in Cooperation in Emergencies) (first from left), also participated in the round table. The event was moderated by Alain Délétroz, political analyst. (EC Audiovisual Services, 29/10/2013).

Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the European Commission in charge of International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response (second from left), participated in the high-level roundtable on the challenges ahead for the humanitarian action. The “150 years of Humanitarian Action – Addressing today’s challenges” event was organised by the Mission of Switzerland to the EU on the occasion of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the humanitarian action. Besides Kristalina Georgieva, Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC (second from right), Rashid Khalikov, Director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva (first from right), and Nicolas Borsinger, President of the NGO VOICE (Voluntary Organisations in Cooperation in Emergencies) (first from left), also participated in the round table. The event was moderated by Alain Délétroz, political analyst. (EC Audiovisual Services, 29/10/2013).

This morning the European Union clearly showed its complete disappointment, with last Sunday’s result of a referendum held in Switzerland, where with a narrow majority of 50.3%, the people of this country approved a “mass immigration” initiative, imposing quotas on European Union citizens entering the Alpine Confederation. The narrow approval of this new law is very indicative of its controversial nature and the implications it may trigger from Brussels. Many international commentators blame the very system of referendums in Switzerland. With 100,000 signatures the citizens of this country can oblige the central authorities to hold a referendum on practically any issue, while the outcome has the power of a law.

Both the European Commission and the European Council Presidency held until 30 June by Greece, showed their deep disappointment with this development. They cited that the imposition of quotas on EU citizens entering the Swiss Confederation is a direct violation of the agreement between the two sides. What is even more indicative of the negative climate in Brussels about this Swiss referendum shows in both the Press releases published. The Commission and the Presidency of the Council openly threaten Switzerland not only with action on a similar front but question the entire relations package between the two sides.

Brussels on roof tops

On top of that, the Commission announcement contains references meaning interference in the internal political scenery of the Alpine direct democracy and also questioning the entire relations package between the two sides. It says, “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”.

Along the same lines the Press release of the Presidency of the Council stated the following: ”The EU will have to examine the implications of the outcome of the vote and is ready to work with the Swiss Government in order to find ways to tackle the issues arising therefrom. The Hellenic Presidency will closely follow this process with the EU institutions and its Member States”.

Not a simple matter

This is not at all a simple matter. A lot of people in the neighboring EU countries work in Switzerland and enter every morning and leave every afternoon. Will they be affected? Is it possible that EU citizens residing in the immediately neighboring countries (Germany, France, Italy and Austria) will be excluded from the quotas while say the Romanians and the Bulgarians to be meticulously numbered and monitored? Even the sub atomic particles accelerator and collider, in the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the well-known CERN, is built exactly on the French-Swiss border line. Half of its 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets, hidden bellow the ground, enters Switzerland.

There is no doubt that this Swiss referendum, so narrowly approved, is set to create many headaches to the government and the administration of this country. Being surrounded by the EU soil it will be very difficult to repel EU pressures in many fronts, from bank secrecy to free trade.

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Comments

  1. Brussels needs to be strict about the four pillars of free movement. No free movement of people should disqualify free trade. It needs to make an example that the UK government with its racist and anti immigration line recognises as the consequence of it’s own policies. Switzerland will still have to put into place laws to trade with Europe which it has no control over so this won’t be good for them in the long term.

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