Swiss cabinet against EU immigration referendum

The Swiss government said  it opposed curbing immigration from the European Union as suggested in a planned referendum because it  could harm exports to the country’s biggest trade partner.

“Cancelling the free movement of people would fundamentally call into question the bilateral path for Switzerland and Europe,” Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga  said at a press conference in Bern.

The 500-million strong EU insists its citizens be admitted to live and work freely in non-member Switzerland in exchange for enhanced Swiss access to the bloc’s Single market.

Anti-immigration members of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest party in parliament, have pushed to end that free movement on the grounds that it leaves the country without adequate tools to manage its growing population and encroaches on its sovereignty.

A referendum must be held on the matter as the required number of signatures has been gathered, but it remains unclear how much support such a proposal might garner in a nationwide vote. No date for the vote has been set yet.

The seven-member cabinet  said approving of the proposal at referendum would hurt Swiss efforts to attract qualified workers, stunt economic growth by crimping exports and raise the prices consumers pay for EU imports.

 

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