On Sunday 9 February, Swiss voters have narrowly backed in a referendum the initiative of the far-right conservative Swiss People´s Party on capping immigration, including from EU countries. Immigrants from the EU were regarded on the Swiss labor market in the same way as Swiss citizens, according to the EU-Switzerland single market treaty. This resulted in millions of EU Member States citizens, mainly Germans, residing and working in Switzerland. This opening of the labor market to the whole EU, according to the Swiss People´s Party, was a mistake and Switzerland will now have to introduce quotas and other anti-immigration measures as a result of the referendum. The government is also obliged to try to renegotiate the deal with the EU. The “yes” in the referendum could, however, trigger the so-called guillotine clause of the single market treaty, suspending its effects entirely due to a severe violation by one of the parties, Switzerland in this case. For Switzerland, which exports a majority of its production to the EU countries, this could be an economic problem with far-reaching consequences.
19th June 2018