Swiss people have voted in favor of limiting the immigration of European job seekers, prompting the European Commission to announce reassessment of relations with Switzerland.
Sunday’s poll results showed that Swiss voters narrowly backed the nationalists’ call for curbing EU immigration.
Voters endorsed proposals to reintroduce immigration quotas with the EU – a move which has the potential to irk multinational companies as well.
The EU and Switzerland clinched a package of accords 12 years ago which facilitated free movement of people, although it is not an EU member.
“This is a turning point, a change of system with far-reaching consequences for Switzerland,” Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told journalists in Berne.
Swiss already has a globally oriented economy that employs large numbers of foreign professionals.
The European Commission in Brussels swiftly voiced regret over the Swiss decision, saying it goes against the principles of free movement of people between the EU and Switzerland.
“For us, EU-Swiss relations come as a package,” said Hannes Swoboda, a member of the European Parliament. “If Switzerland suspends immigration from the EU, it will not be able to count on all the economic and trade benefits it is currently enjoying. We will not allow … cherry-picking.”
About a million EU citizens currently live in Switzerland and about only 400 Swiss citizens are living in the EU.
According to Swiss TV reports, 50.3 percent of the voters supported the “Stop mass immigration” initiative. It also won the required majority approval in more than half of Swiss cantons or regions.
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