Swiss make 'compromise deal' with Croatia
Switzerland has reached a compromise agreement with Croatia on the free movement of people, Swiss state radio broadcaster RTS says.
The deal would end an impasse between the two countries after the February 9th vote by Swiss citizens to subject immigration from citizens of the European Union to quotas, a report aired by RTS on Tuesday said.
Following the vote, the federal government refused to sign an agreement previously hashed out in principle with Croatia that would have given Croatians access to the Swiss employment market following a ten-year transitional regime.
Croatia became the 28th member state of the EU in July 2013.
Bern said the referendum result prevented it by law from signing the previously agreed protocol because it was incompatible with the introduction of quotas for immigrants.
The new agreement would be delivered through a federal government order that will give the right for Croatians to work in Switzerland, although there will be progressive quotas, the RTS report said.
This would be accompanied by a declaration of “non-discrimination” against Croatians, the report said.
However, the “transitional” agreement is subject to approval by the European Commission and the signals coming from Brussels are “rather negative”, RTS said.
The Swiss government is working separately to renegotiate the freedom of movement of labour agreement it signed with the EU to meet the requirements of the February 9th referendum, which call for immigrant quotas.
The vote put the requirement for such quotas in the Swiss constitution but it did not specify quota limits or who will determine the quotas.
The federal government has asked officials from the justice, foreign affairs and economic affairs department to develop an implementation plan by the end of June.
The plan will serve as the basis for later negotiations with the EU, although exploratory discussions with Brussels have already begun.
After Switzerland earlier announced it could not sign the freedom of movement agreement with Croatia, the EU responded by freezing grants to Switzerland for the Erasmus educational exchange programme and for research projects.