Schulz: Switzerland and EU need to find compromise on immigration

Swiss anti-immigration hysteria satire. [Tjebbe van Tijen/Flickr]

Switzerland and the European Union have to find a compromise on how to act on a Swiss referendum to limit immigration without breaching bilateral treaties with the EU, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a TV interview on Wednesday (29 June).

“We have to find a solution with Switzerland because we need each other. I believe Switzerland (needs) the EU a bit more than the other way round,” Schulz told Swiss television SRF. Both sides should try to reach a mutual agreement, he said.

Brexit deal on EU migrants inspires Switzerland

A February deal allowing Britain to limit the free movement of workers coming from the European Union is giving ideas to the Swiss, who would like similar exceptions applied to their own relations with the 28 member bloc.

Neutral Switzerland has until February to implement a binding 2014 referendum demanding limits on the influx of foreigners into a country whose population is already a quarter foreign.

It needs a deal by summer to have legislation in place.

But with the EU preoccupied with the loss of major member Britain, chances are fading for a quick deal that would allow outsider Switzerland to implement the referendum without infringing bilateral treaties guaranteeing the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the EU.

EU warns Switzerland of consequences after anti-immigration referendum

Brussels warned Switzerland on Monday that all their bilateral agreements will be revised, after the Swiss on Sunday narrowly backed a curb on EU immigration.
50.3% of Swiss nationals voted yes to reintroducing immigration quotas on EU citizens, in a referendum heavily opposed by Swiss business leaders and the federal government.
The European Commission heavily criticised the outcome of the vote, saying it goes against the principle of free movement of people.

“The talks won’t become easier because the free movement of persons now plays a bigger role,” Schulz said, referring to the impact of Britain’s Brexit vote.

He said the Brexit negotiations were going to take a long time, while the EU and Switzerland needed to find a solution “relatively quickly”.


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