Swiss included in EU asylum deal despite vote

Swiss included in EU asylum deal despite vote
The EU wants to include Switzerland in a new agreement on asylum, despite blocking other EU-Switzerland deals since the February 9th vote on quotas for EU citizens in Switzerland.

According to Swiss news agency ATS, just two days after the referendum the European Council approved Switzerland's participation in the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), subject to ratification by the European Parliament and the Swiss government.

Created in 2011, EASO aims to help countries who are under particular pressure from asylum seekers. Participation allows Switzerland to share best practice and risk analysis on asylum with EU states, and take part in the agency's strategic discussions.

Switzerland received 21,465 applications for asylum in 2013, according to the Federal Migration Office.

The agreement comes as a surprise given the EU's actions on Switzerland since February 9th. Earlier this week the EU blocked Swiss students' participation in the Erasmus study programme from the next academic year.

EU employment commissioner Laszlo Andor said the move was not meant to sanction Switzerland but was a logical consequence of Switzerland reneging on the free movement of persons accord with the EU.

Europe has also suspended talks with Switzerland over its participation in EU research programmes.

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