European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso warned Switzerland on Thursday that it risks loosing access to the European single market if it continues with plans to restrict EU immigration.
Barroso's comments came after the Swiss government said on Wednesday it will draft legislation to limit immigration by the end of the year.
“We will not negotiate the free movement of persons principle. It's a complete element. We may not negotiate it. We are not ready to tie up the package again, to makeshift repair. The Federal Council has to take a decision now. Then we will may discuss over it, but in the respect of the essential principles.” said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.
50.3% of Swiss citizens voted yes to reintroducing immigration quotas on EU citizens, in a controversial referendum tabled by a Swiss right-wing party.
The Commission urged the Swiss government to come up with a solution to turn the vote into law while respecting its current agreements with the EU.
“It's Switzerland who has to bring us solutions. That's why, it's not to me or to the Commission to present solutions. We face now a situation where Switzerland may have difficulties to make respect the agreement they signed with the European Union.”
“So, it's not fair that Europe offers these conditions to Switzerland and that Switzerland doesn't offer the same conditions. There is an international agreement between Switzerland and the European Union which has to be respected.” Barroso added.
A Swiss delegation is due to come to Brussels next Thursday to hold talks with EU officials.