• 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
Neighbours’ day: Swiss cities join growing European party
Around 40 towns in Switzerland will celebrate Neighbours' Day. Photo: Tag der Nachbarn

St Gallen becomes the latest Swiss town to take part in European Neighbours’ Day.

Swiss boffins create cannabis e-cigarette
File photo: Marcel van Hoorn/AFP

"Cannavaping" for medical use is safer than a joint and better than a pill, say Lausanne scientists.

Swiss cantons team up to vie for winter Olympic games
The resort of Verbier in the canton of Valais. File photo: The Local

Valais and Vaud launch joint candidacy for the 2026 winter Olympics.

Ticino beaches praised in European report
Bathing spots on Lake Lugano were among those rather excellent. Photo: Roland Gerth/Swiss-image.ch

More than 100 Swiss beaches have been rated as excellent for water quality in a European report.

Gotthard base tunnel: what you need to know
The new rail tunnel is the longest and deepest in the world. Photo: Alp Transit Gotthard

The longest tunnel in the world will be inaugurated in Switzerland amid great fanfare on June 1st. The Local takes you through it.

Bern pulls plug on lakes after heavy rain forecast
Lake Biel/Bienne is one of the three affected lakes. Photo: Biel/Bienne/Seeland tourism/Swiss-image.ch

Authorities are reducing the water level of three Swiss lakes this week so they can cope with heavy rain to come.

French Open tennis
Wawrinka eases into third round in Paris

Swiss defending French Open champion Stan Wawrinka beat Japan's Taro Daniel.

Swiss solar plane continues historic trip
File photo: Eugene Tanner/AFP

Solar Impulse 2, piloted by a Swiss, successfully flew out of Ohio on Wednesday en route to Pennsylvania.

Basel: Muslim schoolboys must shake hands or face fine
File photo: Broad Bean Media

Decision by Basel education authorities comes after two Muslim boys refused to shake their female teacher's hand on religious grounds.

Paternity leave backers push for public vote
File photo: AFP

Fathers in Switzerland should get four weeks statutory paternity leave, say supporters of a new popular initiative.

Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP
Sport
Brother of Belgian bomber wins gold in Switzerland
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
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
Sponsored Article
Becoming an expat: where to start
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Culture
Dog day afternoon: Swiss saint meets Pope in Rome
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Business & Money
Pink diamond sold for record-breaking $31m in Geneva
File photo: Candida Performa
Lifestyle
Revealed: living in Switzerland could prolong your life
Photo: Cervo
Travel
In pictures: Switzerland’s most welcoming hotels
Photo: Aargau cantonal government
‘Beast of Rupperswil’ was local football coach
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Features
Geneva exhibition marks 200 years of Frankenstein
Photo AFP
National
Swiss basic income campaign sets Guinness world record
Photo: St Gallen police
Society
Police hunt killer of man shot dead in St Gallen street
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Society
Presumed jihadist could have Swiss nationality quashed
Photo: Zurich Zoo
Culture
Gallery: giant tortoise at Zurich Zoo is mother at 80
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Society
Swiss farmer loses appeal in row over noisy cow bells
Photo: Esparta Palmer
Health
44-year-old woman refused fertility treatment on insurance
File photo: Thomas Coex/AFP
Society
Jilted admirer shocks woman with tattoo... of her face
File photo: Flickr
Health
Swiss school eyes longer holidays for non-smoking staff
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
Swiss basic income vote: what you need to know
 Photo: Heinrich Plum
National
Lidl uses German mountain to promote its Swiss products
Photo: Illiz Architektur
This old Swiss army bunker is now an incredible new pool
Photo: Stephan Engler
National
Survey reveals some Swiss ‘never’ cross linguistic divide
Society
Swiss parliament snubs plan for two weeks paternity leave
File photo: Giovanni Blank
Lifestyle
Fathers should share parental leave, says commission
4,635
jobs available