Switzerland Faces ‘Difficult Talks’ with EU After Immigration Referendum

Ian Traynor, Guardian (London), February 10, 2014

Switzerland’s key neighbours have warned that the country’s close relationship with the European Union hinged on how it coped with the decision to scrap free movement for EU citizens.

Berlin and Paris voiced dismay over Sunday’s Swiss referendum, which decided by a thin majority to introduce quotas for migrants from the EU, scrapping a longstanding agreement with Brussels guaranteeing freedom of movement.

The verdict shocked the European and Swiss elites as it overturned the key pact governing links between the EU and Switzerland, meaning a package of accords partly integrating the country in the EU without being a member could unravel.

A spokesman for the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the vote’s surprise outcome created “substantial problems”. France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said the EU would need to review its relations with Switzerland because of the vote to curb EU citizens’ rights.

As anti-immigration campaigners across Europe took delight in the Swiss backlash against newcomers, it was clear that the government in Berne faces a dilemma. The fallout from the vote affects a range of agreements with Brussels that allow the Swiss open access to Europe’s single market on everything from selling cheese to competing for public tenders to civil aviation, transport and research.

The strongest warning to the Swiss came from Frank-Walter Steinmeier,Germany’s foreign minister. “Cherry-picking with the EU is not a sustainable strategy. The Swiss have damaged themselves with this result. The fair co-operation we have had in the past with Switzerland also includes observing the central fundamental decisions taken by the EU,” he said.

Freedom of movement is one of the four keystones of the single market. Switzerland’s access to the market–the EU takes 60% of Swiss exports–is based on seven bilateral agreements from 1999, including the free movement pact. The package of seven agreements are interlinked, including guillotine clauses, which means that if one agreement is ditched, the whole package collapses.

For Brussels, said a European commission spokeswoman, free movement is a “sacred liberty. The ball is in the Swiss court. They have to decide what consequences to draw.”

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said there would need to be “difficult talks” with the Swiss.

Markus Spillmann, editor of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in Zurich, said:”The relationship between Switzerland and the EU is now completely open. There will certainly be no good for the economy and for prosperity in this country,” he wrote. “Inward-looking Switzerland has won. That’s not good for a small, open, resources-poor country.”

Sunday’s referendum, which passed by 50.3% of votes, was mounted by the populist conservative anti-immigration campaigners of the Swiss People’s party. Mainstream politicians, the business community and most urban voters all opposed the immigration caps and were defeated.

The EU and Switzerland are supposed to open negotiations on Wednesday on a new updated framework agreement regulating relations, which have been fraught in recent years because of disputes over banking secrecy and taxation.

The referendum result obliges the Swiss government to cap immigration, but it does not stipulate how and Berne has three years to turn the voters’ verdict into law, giving it time to negotiate with Brussels and other EU capitals.

“The referendum did not specify how these measures will be implemented. It only calls for upper bounds on immigration in order to fulfil economic needs,” said Reto Föllmi, professor of international economics at the University of St Gallen. “If there is any chance of getting the EU to agree to this, Switzerland must make huge concessions in the other fields of the bilateral negotiations.”

But it is difficult to see Brussels diluting freedom of movement to satisfy the Swiss while also allowing Berne preferential access to the single market.

Credit Suisse warned of a negative impact on Swiss growth prospects, foreign investment and job losses, adding that there would be problems finding the right staff for highly qualified jobs.

There are several hundred thousand EU nationals living and working in Switzerland, mainly from Italy, Germany, Portugal and France, while some 450,000 Swiss also live and work in EU countries.

One hundred days before elections to the European parliament, in which immigration will be a central issue, the populist right hailed the Swiss verdict as a template for the rest of the EU.

Geert Wilders, the rightwing Dutch populist, called the Swiss result “fantastic” and called on the Netherlands to follow suit.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, said the same about France. “This Swiss victory will reinforce the will of the French people to stop mass immigration,” she said.

In Germany, where Euroscepticism is much weaker, the new anti-single currency party, Alternative for Germany, demanded a referendum on immigration.

And in Austria, Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the far-right Freedom party, which is currently nudging the top of the opinion polls, called for the same.

If mainstream leaders across Europe are alarmed at the implications of the Swiss vote, analysts said, it is also because they know similar results could be expected in several countries across the EU if single-issue plebiscites were held.

Swiss voters have asked a big question of their country’s place in Europe. They want fewer Europeans coming to live and work in their country. But the timing and the verdict of Sunday’s plebiscite mean that for once Switzerland’s direct democracy will echo well beyond its Alpine peaks and valleys.

It will be heard particularly clearly in Britain where David Cameron has been proposing very similar measures to those supported by the Swiss–a cap on migration within the European Union and a dilution of one of the EU’s basic liberties, the free movement of labour.

Nowhere will the ensuing wrangle between Brussels and Berne be followed more closely than in London, because of the implications for Cameron’s EU referendum and new-deal-for-the-UK campaign.

On the EU side, in trying to resolve the Swiss conundrum an uppermost consideration will be to avoid any concessions on freedom of movement that would encourage British chutzpah in seeking to bend the EU to its will.

No cherrypicking, can’t have your cake and eat it, got to take the rough with the smooth. Such were the mantras from Brussels and Berlin on Monday following the Swiss shock. The message might as well be directed at Britain’s Conservatives as at the Swiss.

The two cases are very different. Britain is a (relatively) big country in Europe. Switzerland is small, if highly successful and wealthy. Switzerland is not in the EU. Britain is. But the same freedom of movement rules apply to both. Berne will now need to renegotiate the terms of its integration with the EU, just as Cameron insists he wants to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership in order to put a winnable proposition to a Swiss-style plebiscite in 2017 if he is re-elected next year.

Freedom of movement goes to the heart of the single market, the bit that Britain likes most about the EU. It is founded on four freedoms – of goods, services, capital, and labour. Britain has always been the single market’s foremost champion, Margaret Thatcher to the fore. It remains so. But it wants to dilute one of its central premises.

There is little evidence to suggest EU migration to Britain over the past decade has done anything but mildly boost economic performance and help the fiscal balance. Swiss economic analysis on Monday reached the same conclusion about the impact of the vote – that it would depress growth, hurt outside investment, damage exports.

The main message from Brussels to the Swiss was that reversing freedom of movement inevitably entails rewriting the entire complex gamut of the confederation’s legal relationship with the EU, not to Switzerland’s advantage.

The precedent is not a happy one for a Conservative party committed to free trade and the single market. But the popular Swiss verdict also feeds into the European zeitgeist, of hostility to foreigners, of scapegoating, of fears of jobs being lost to outsiders (in a country with the lowest jobless rate in Europe), of social services being abused by non-natives.

The Swiss experience, over the next couple of years, may turn out to be salutary and chastening for a Britain and a Cameron government mulling its European options.

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  • IstvanIN

    Why does “free trade” (of which I am opposed) require the free movement of labor? Why can’t I sell cheese in England without allowing England’s Pakis the ability to invade Switzerland?

    • Zaporizhian Sich

      Free trade is nothing of the kind, it’s genocide against our race and peoples. At the same time, the world’s wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small group of hostile racial and religious aliens Hell bend on our destruction. Good for the Swiss, they have the balls to stand up for their own legitimate long term interests and future.

      • Homo_Occidentalis

        Everyone should appreciate this post before it is inevitably taken down. You have just gazed into the face of evil.

      • Romulus

        Great pic brother. They only won by a very narrow margin. Split almost down the middle just like America.
        As so-cal SNOWMAN pointed out, however, the rabble is STILL in Switzerland. Their not going anywhere just yet. So if the vote is to keep the Germans,Italians, and French at bay, exactly which ones is the leaders of the EU talking about. The actual natives to those lands or foreigners.

        Hell, we all know neither Holland or Sarkozy is French. They are both white haji/Arab/ meditteranids Sarkozy being a Czech and Holland? Sure in the hell doesn’t look deutch to me.

        • Zaporizhian Sich

          More like exterminating them any chance they get.

      • Romulus

        Notice her surname is the same as PA’s dead senator and the EVIL organization in the BOND FILMS.

      • NeanderthalDNA

        So where do the Jews go hide when all of Europe goes muzzie and the Caliphate has the nuclear arsenals and technology of France and Britain? And when the US goes down?

        What’s their angle, eh? Antarctic arcologies? Space colonies?

        Are they pawns of the alien reptiloids or ARE they the alien reptiloids?

        And how do the masons fit into it?

        14 million Jews in this world. They MUST be the master race. Or gods incarnate. Either way, I’m throwing in the towel, man. You can’t oppose THAT.

        Poor old AH. He sure tried. Just didn’t realize what he was up against, I suppose, certainly not while he was machine gunning Ukrainians.

        • Whitetrashgang

          The same place they are now the USA,They have been running Europe for 800 years and the USA for 200 they have liitle concern of the little people which is everyone except NS Germany.

          • NeanderthalDNA

            But I thought they were destroying the USA too.

            If they are that powerful (14 million, of which perhaps 11 million are the smart ones) and they’ve been pulling this big plot off this long then resistance is futile. They are a race of superhumans and nobody can stop them, so why bother?

            Big Jew conspiracy theories remind me of blacks talking about evil Whites and our fiendish plots to steal from them and keep them down.

            Let’s look for patterns. Avg IQ of American black = 85. Average IQ of White (factors in Jew IQ, by the way, not sure how that affects it) = 100. Average IQ of Ashkenazi = 115.

            Perhaps 15 points of average IQ difference is all it takes for the lower IQ group to accuse the higher IQ group of evil plots to keep the lower IQ group down?

            But the Jewophobe often will dispute that 15 point difference, yet still hold doggedly to the idea that 14 million of them (10-11 million the smart and therefore evil kind) are controlling the destiny of billions of everybody else. It’s because they are clannish, then, and stick together. But then the hardcore paranoid conspiratorialists, whether alien reptiloidist or masonicist or whateverist move them goalposts every time! Total neurotic immunity to reason and evidence, yet clever and dogged the justification for delusion.

            I hate arguing with insane people. Losing proposition every time, thence insane in and of itself.

            The problem, however, is that clever, dogged, insane folks represent a danger to any movement they belong to, as they discredit their own and drive away rational types.

            You know what? Although I generally avoid the Jew topic here for many good reasons, like trying to maintain order, and the tediousness of it, you know what? I’ve been mistaken.

            The rabid Jewophobes, regardless of and in disdain of the pre-stated desires of the owners of this house, NEVER cease. It is a form of disrespect to the owners tantamount to being given refuge in a home and then proceeding to defecate in the kitchen. So take my words to mean I love the Jews or I’m a hebe plant or whatever, I don’t care.

            I’m not going to be nice about this irritating distraction any more. It’s a bigger obstacle to the movement than a crypto-Marxist high yaller prezzy and his high yaller Hitler AG.

          • Whitetrashgang

            Your missing the point back in the 12 or 13 century Europeans thought handling money was unclean and left it to the jews. Once you control the money you control everything it that simple.I do truly hate jews starting in 1917 and you sir are completely Wrong.

      • jeffaral

        Yes Barbara, your people are at the center of the hurricane; it could be dangerous!

        • Zaporizhian Sich

          She’s at the center of a category 5 hurricane like Katrina alright, but little does she understand that just outside the eye are the fiercest winds, thunderstorms, lighting and storm surge. In other words, her ilk will reap the whirlwind they started, and suffer accordingly.

      • Einsatzgrenadier

        I hope Barbara Lerner Spectre dies a truly horrible death. There is no punishment she could receive that would ever make up for the amount of suffering and destruction she has caused.

        • Whitetrashgang

          That’s why there is no such thing as Karma, etc.

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      Western countries do not need immigration, especially 3rd world immigration. The transnational multicultural elite wants to pretend that mass 3rd world immigration is a law of nature, something that cannot be stopped. But this is utter madness. 3rd world immigration is an act of treason, plain and simple. It can be stopped. It will be stopped.

      There was a time when aiding and abetting the foreign invasion and colonization of one’s country was an act of high treason that merited the gallows. A reinstatement of the traditional understanding of what it means to betray your country is now in order.

    • Romulus

      Were it not for king Sobieski and allies, the Arab muslims would have run them over 1300 yrs ago. They already had been invaded by Arab lite after the fall of Rome. Their famous scientists is a prime example.

    • sbuffalonative

      Have you noticed how they use words like ‘protectionism’ and ‘nativism’ as if they’re hate word that we’re supposed to react to with shock and horror?

      If we think of ourselves and protect our own self interests, the world will come to an end!

    • Pro_Whitey

      Exactly. Movement of goods is fine and dandy. Movement of capital is questionable and debatable, and movement of labor absolutely unnecessary. Good fences make good neighbors. That’s what Israel’s recently built border fence on the Sinai teaches us.

  • bigone4u

    The EU is up to no good because it was a creation of the globalist, one world government elites who seek to exterminate individual nationalities. They’re having some trouble with that agenda. Protests in France, the quenelle gesture, the Swiss vote, the Ukraine situation. The diverse white people’s of Europe for the most part do not want to lose their unique identies. Who can blame them? The beneficiaries of globalism are the power elites, not the people.

    • David Ashton

      Europeans unite – against the “EUgh!”

    • Dutch

      Culture wise it’s ok between europeans. The advantage is that a tiny country gets overcrowded for everybody, so immigration will decline.
      Switserland is a bit smarter and loves it’s own culture the most so avoids the bs.

  • Spartacus

    “But the popular Swiss verdict also feeds into the European zeitgeist, of
    hostility to foreigners, of scapegoating, of fears of jobs being lost
    to outsiders (in a country with the lowest jobless rate in Europe), of
    social services being abused by non-natives.”

    ———————————————————————————————————————

    You forgot gang-rapes and cannibalism…

    • Romulus

      Clitorectomy’s, honor killings evolutionary suicide, the third exodus from the middle east, beheadings, more forced religious conversion (Islam).

  • the sound the flood the hour

    Expect to see some heavy vilification of the swiss people by local and international media outlets with buzz words like nazi, xenophobic, racist, ect., followed by some “negotiating” between EU officials and Swiss leaders over how the new referendum should be applied.

    • Homo_Occidentalis

      Perhaps there will even be UN sanctions with the aim of forcing a collapse of the Swiss “apartheid state”.

  • David Ashton

    Markus Spillmann, banker’s boy from Basle, now NZZ editor, but patriotic Swiss are on to him.

  • sbuffalonative

    The verdict shocked the European and Swiss elites

    It’s not their role to be ‘shocked’. It’s their role to listen to the will of their people.

    • Homo_Occidentalis

      If they cared about what your average European thinks, the non-whites would have been turned back at the ports fifty years ago.

      • Kevinberger

        Yes.

  • Ella

    I understand the Swiss who don’t need or want hundreds of thousands workers to continue to poor in from Eastern block EU countries that depress wages over time in manufacturing. This happened in BenaLux region with lay-off and rehiring games of industries. I don’t really believe that this is related to Germans or French taking jobs, lol. The Swiss people speak German, Italian and French already along with English.

  • Kit Ingoldby

    This is a great learning moment about what the EU really stands for.

    Basically, ‘Do what we say, give up all your sovereignty or we will bully and attempt to crush you’

    Bullies and anti democratic thugs.

  • NeanderthalDNA

    Sarkozy is the son of Pál István Ernő Sárközy de Nagy-Bócsa[5] (Hungarian: nagybócsai Sárközy Pál [nɒɟ͡ʝboːt͡ʃɒi ʃaːrkøzi paːl] ( listen); in some sources Nagy-Bócsay Sárközy Pál István Ernő),[6] a Hungarian aristocrat, and Andrée Jeanne “Dadu” Mallah (b. Paris, 12 October 1925), whose Greek Jewish father converted to Catholicism to marry Sarkozy’s French Catholic maternal grandmother.[7][8] They were married in the Saint-François-de-Sales church, 17th arrondissement of Paris, on 8 February 1950 and divorced in 1959.[9]

    Guess that’s Jew enough…

    Hollande was born in Rouen to a middle-class family. His mother, Nicole Frédérique Marguerite Tribert (1927–2009), was a social worker, and his father, Georges Gustave Hollande, an ear, nose, and throat doctor who “had once run for the far right in local politics.”[2][3][4][5][6] Hollande was raised Catholic but is now an agnostic.[7] (In December 2011, Hollande told the French Christian magazine La Vie that he respects all religious practices but has none of his own.[8]) The family moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine, a highly exclusive suburb of Paris, when Hollande was 13.[9]

    Well, at least he looks Jew. Jew enough!

  • T_Losan

    What do an average Neopolitan and an average Amsterdamer have in common? Very little. As a loose free-trade club it was fine, but major cracks are appearing in the EU even as it enlarges to areas only generously described as European.

  • Whirlwinder

    Switzerland has just saved itself from death by Islam. Islam has inundated the EU and is now getting ready to take over politically. The EU may have thought they were getting cheap labor but Islam fooled them. They jumped on welfare and they do not work. And they are responsible for the quantum leap in crime. Wake up people. Get rid of Islam-they are the enemy.

  • jeffaral

    Stay strong Switzerland!