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26. 2. 2014 13:00

Swiss referendum and the free movement of persons

On 25 February 2014 Eurocentre Prague organized a seminar entitled “The Swiss referendum and the free movement of persons”.

Swiss voters supported the proposal to impose restrictions on immigration and the free movement of persons in a referendum on 12 February. The restrictions will apply to all foreigners, including the European Union citizens. A total of 50.3% of Swiss citizens participating in the poll voted in favour of this proposal which had the highest support in the German-speaking cantons and the least support in the French-speaking cantons.

The specifications of the quotas will be a matter of further discussions; nevertheless, they will have to be implemented in three years since the referendum. Marek Souček from the European policies coordination department, Office of the Government of the Czech Republic, discussed the possible repercussions of the results of the referendum on the EU-Swiss relations. In the past, a series of bilateral agreements were concluded between these two partners, including the agreement on the free movement of persons. Given the results of the referendum, it will be necessary to revise these agreements. Apart from that, the approved Swiss immigration measures will undoubtedly be a topic in this year’s pre-election campaigns to the European parliament. Immigration is a matter of concern not only in Switzerland, but also in other European countries, such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

Matyáš Zrno from the Civic Institute offered a general view on the problem of immigration and the cohabitation of members of different nationalities. Occupational migration led to the gradual settlement of foreigners in individual European countries. Such a situation resulted in clashes of differing cultural traditions and in this context the question of how to deal with immigration becoming more acute.

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