Thursday 19 April 2012

EU against Swiss Quotas

The EU has remained united against Switzerland's move to introduce a quota on immigration from the Member States from the 2004 enlargement. Introducing the quota is contrary to the EU's agreement with Switzerland on the free movement of people, Catherine Ashton said (PDF). Switzerland is still allowed exemptions for Romania and Bulgaria under the treaty (Member States can - and have - introduced temporary restrictions for Romania and Bulgaria when they joined in 2007, but these are supposed to expire after a few years).

The EUObserver has reported that the right-wing Swiss People's Party:

"...has recently campaigned for a referendum on EU immigration using posters which show black workers' boots trampling the Swiss flag."

The posters read "Jetzt ist genug! Masseneinwanderung stoppen." - "Now is enough! Stop Mass Immigration.". If Switzerland votes against the treaty on the free movement of persons, then the EU might cancel all its other treaties with Switzerland on the internal market.

It's good to see that the EU intends to stick up for the equal rights of EU citizens for free movement - it hasn't been a good year for this right of free movement so far this year, at least politically. In the Netherlands Geert Wilders' PVV launched a website encouraging people to report Eastern Europeans for crime and "economic competition", and a similar website was launched by a far-right Flemish party in Belgium. The Commission yesterday proposed more liberalisation in the labour market by dropping the remaining restrictions, but it's hard to see this position getting anywhere in the current political and economic climate...


  1. "It's good to see that the EU intends to stick up for the equal rights of EU citizens for free movement"

    Well, it's a shame that those aren't actually "rights", as Switzerland isn;t a aprt of the EU, those people aren;t Swiss citizens, and the PRIVILEGE to move freely within Switzerland was jsut that, a privilege that can be reconsidered or revoked at any time by the sovereogn Swiss people.

    It's also a shame that such arrogant entitlement seems to come aprt and aprcel with being a liberal these days. What part of the world do you not have a right to claim as your own?

  2. Switzerland has signed up to a body of treaties where Swiss people have those free movement rights in the rest of the EU in return for granting those rights to the citizens of all EU Member States equally. They can indeed be revoked, but only if they pull out of the treaties that grant them access to the EU's internal market. The EU was right to stand up for the equality of all citizens covered by the treaties.

    Switzerland can decide if it wants to be in this relationship with the EU, but if it does want to be in it, then it can't discriminate between EU citizens. It is from these treaties that we derive these rights, and Switzerland must keep up its part of the bargain.

  3. Inevitably all legislation, and all treaties signed by the Swiss government are up for review by the electorate. Swizterland is the land of the referendum, if a policy, law, or treaty is unpopular it may be put up for review via a referendum. But hey, if the EU is foolish enough to cancel its treaties with Switzerland over the labor movement issue then so be it. It would seem rather foolish from an economic standpoint, whereas protecting its borders is a vital issue for Switzerland.