• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3
EU ‘freezes’ Swiss talks until Brexit outcome
Cameron and Juncker meet in Brussels. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP

EU ‘freezes’ Swiss talks until Brexit outcome

The Local · 24 Feb 2016, 11:47

Published: 24 Feb 2016 11:47 GMT+01:00

For the past two years the Swiss federal government has been in discussions over how to apply the result of the February 9th 2014 referendum which approved the principle of limiting immigration to Switzerland.

The government – which opposed the initiative – must decide what form these limits should take before the measure is due to come into force in February next year.

The referendum result conflicted with existing bilateral agreements with the EU, which is founded on the core principle of free movement for its citizens.

In December the Swiss government presented a Plan B “safeguard” strategy which would apply the brakes to immigration unilaterally should negotiations over a bilateral agreement with the EU fail.

But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker rejected the proposal.

Now Brussels has “frozen” negotiations with Switzerland over the matter until the outcome of so-called Brexit is known, reports Le Temps, quoting a source high up in Europe.

Britain will go to the polls on June 23rd to decide whether it should leave the EU.

Le Temps' source told the paper that Switzerland would be wise to keep quiet on immigration for the time being.

“The smallest reference to quantitative restrictions or a quota system will be seen as a provocation,” the source said.  

The warning comes days after Europe agreed a renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership.

But Switzerland cannot assume that concessions granted to Britain over immigration in the context of Brexit would then be granted to Switzerland too, said the source.

The source points out that British Prime Minister David Cameron had to settle for limits on child benefits for immigrants rather than restrictions on immigration itself.

Story continues below…

Brussels will also be eyeing  the result of this Sunday’s popular vote in Switzerland on the expulsion of foreign criminals.

“If that initiative passes, that would be a further blow to the principle of free movement,” the source told Le Temps.

Nevertheless, discussions on the matter will continue after the Brexit decision, said the source.

“We have every political, economic and emotional reason to find a solution. Our doors will be open again the day after the British referendum.”

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Terror as tractor tumbles towards Swiss motorway
The tractor narrowly missed falling on to the motorway below. Photo: Obwalden police

A tractor tumbled down a slope and was left hanging precariously over a motorway in the canton of Obwalden on Thursday.

Why Swiss science could suffer badly from Brexit fallout
The EU-funded Human Brain Project is led by Lausanne's EPFL (here receiving funding). Photo: Georges Gobet/AFP

The future of Swiss scientific research is in danger should the country fail to solve its problems with the EU because of Brexit, a leading economist has warned.

Basel suffers wettest six months for 150 years
Parts of Switzerland smashed the half-year record for rainfall. Photo: Jonathan Kos-Read

And the rest of the country has been pretty soggy too.

Jazz icons kick off Montreux's 50th birthday
The Stravinski auditorium. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Two of the world's greatest jazz musicians opened the star-studded 50th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival on Thursday.

Wimbledon
Injury ends Swiss seed Bencic's Wimbledon
File photo: Sean M Haffey/Getty North America/AFP

The 19-year-old is forced to retire from her second round match with a wrist injury.

Federal fund aims to reduce childcare costs
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

A 100 million franc fund would ease the burden of childcare for working parents.

Switzerland sets out law on expelling foreign criminals
File photo: Christoph G

The 2010 initiative to expel foreign criminals for serious crimes will come into effect this autumn.

Court fines Muslim father in latest swimming lessons row
Photo: P Cutler

A Muslim father was fined in Switzerland on Wednesday for refusing to allow his daughters to take swimming lessons at school.

Wimbledon
Federer ends British fairytale at Wimbledon
File photo: Carmen Jaspersen/AFP

Brit qualifier Marcus Willis's brief flirtation with Wimbledon fame was ended by Swiss champ Roger Federer on Wednesday.

Drone shocks nudists at Swiss waterpark
Photo: Marcel Chassot/Bernaqua

Clients at a Bern waterpark were horrified to spot a drone hovering over a nudist area.

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Photo: Basel Justice and Security Dept
Lifestyle
New signs lay down law and order for Basel prostitutes
Photo: Daniel Orth
Education
Muslim school kids denied passport for refusing swimming lessons
Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
Politics
Swiss-EU talks ‘must’ resume this summer, says President
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
File photo: Kochtopf
National
Anger as Swiss council plans non-pork school lunches
File photo: Jen/Flickr
Society
Geneva could get 'café fellatio' by end of year
Features
How Switzerland's scenery inspired some of the world's greatest authors
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
A guaranteed basic income: why did the Swiss say no?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Photo: Andreas Gerth/Swiss-Image.ch
Features
Switzerland’s breathtaking Unesco World Heritage sites
Photo: Nestle
Culture
Nestlé celebrates 150 years with museum openings
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
National
Report: Swiss are officially ‘good’ for the planet
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
World agog at bizarre Gotthard Base Tunnel opening
Photo: Coop
Swiss supermarkets look to scrap free plastic bags
Photo: IMD
Business & Money
Report: Swiss economy more competitive than US
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Photo: Aargau police
National
Murderer escapes from Swiss psych hospital
Photo: Grande-Dixence SA/essencedesign.com
Features
8 fantastic reasons to visit French-speaking Switzerland
Photo: Terroir Fribourg
Lifestyle
Swiss village to make world’s biggest meringue
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Features
10 unspoken rules for fitting in with the Swiss
Photo: Alp Transit Gotthard
National
Gotthard base tunnel: what you need to know
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Sport
Swiss cantons team up to vie for winter Olympic games
Photo: Broad Bean Media
National
Basel: Muslim schoolboys must shake hands or face fine
Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP
Sport
Brother of Belgian bomber wins gold in Switzerland
Photo: Gstaad Tourism
National
Snow puts end to hottest weekend of year so far
File photo: Abhishek Jacob
Lifestyle
Swiss court vetoes wedding of couple with 50-year age gap
4,688
jobs available