News / Europe

EU to Review Swiss Ties After Immigration Vote

Swiss President and Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter addresses a news conference in Bern, Feb. 9, 2014.
Swiss President and Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter addresses a news conference in Bern, Feb. 9, 2014.
VOA News
The European Union announced it will review its ties with Switzerland after voters in the Alpine country narrowly passed a measure Sunday to curb immigration by EU citizens.

The European Commission said in a statement that the EU "will examine the implications of this initiative on the overall relations between the EU and Switzerland." Switzerland is not a member of the EU.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday the Swiss vote was a "worrying vote because it means that Switzerland wants to withdraw into itself."

EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet Monday in Brussels, but it was not immediately clear whether the Swiss vote will be on the agenda.

Swiss television reports 50.3 percent of voters backed the "Stop Mass Immigration" initiative proposed by the right wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), which said the country could not cope with 80,000 new immigrants each year.

The decision means the Swiss government will have to renegotiate treaties that allow for the free movement of people to and from the European Union. Swiss citizens have also been able to freely travel and work in EU countries.

Under the new proposal, Switzerland will have to draft legislation setting quotas for the number of European immigrants, as well as their right to bring their families with them.

The SVP referendum campaign cited negative effects on housing prices, jobs, public transportation and infrastructure.

Opponents to the referendum argued the measure that curbs immigration would damage the economy and exacerbate the shortage of highly skilled foreign workers in the country.

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