News World Immigration to Switzerland rises ahead of vote on EU free-movement deal

Immigration to Switzerland rises ahead of vote on EU free-movement deal

Net immigration to Switzerland rose again last year, official data showed on Thursday, ahead of a May referendum pushed by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party on ending an accord with the European Union on the free movement of citizens.

Immigration contributed a net 55,000 people to Switzerland’s population last year, the State Secretariat for Migration said. The foreign population stood at 2.1 million at year’s end, or around a quarter of the overall 8.5 million.

Net immigration from the European Union and EFTA countries Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein increased by nearly 32,000, mostly as Romanians and Bulgarians took advantage of the full opening of the Swiss labour market for them as of June 2019.

The biggest groups of EU citizens living in Switzerland are from Italy, Germany, France, Portugal and Kosovo.

In a binding referendum on May 17, voters will decide whether Switzerland should take back unilateral control of immigration, if necessary at the cost of abrogating the free-movement pact with the EU that took full effect in 2007.

The referendum under the Swiss system of direct democracy is being billed as Switzerland’s “Brexit moment”.

The referendum drive reflects unease with the influx of foreigners. But imposing limits on EU citizens would violate bilateral accords that enhance Swiss access to the EU single market, the lifeblood of the export-led Swiss economy.

Most Swiss oppose the idea of ending the free movement pact, a poll published this month found.

Campaigning to oppose the proposition in the referendum is a priority for the Swiss government, which has struggled to put relations with the surrounding EU on a new footing.

Brussels wants the Swiss to endorse a new treaty that would have Bern routinely adopt single market rules and create a more effective platform to resolve disputes.

The Swiss government has dragged its feet for months while it tries to forge domestic consensus on how to proceed, annoying Brussels and triggering a row over cross-border stock trading. The May vote has put any progress on hold.

The treaty ran aground amid opposition that spanned the normally pro-Europe centre left to the anti-EU far right. Critics say the pact infringes Swiss sovereignty to the extent that it would never get through parliament or pass a referendum.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

COVID-19: Average age in Cyprus is 31 (tables)

Here are the infographics, by the Ministry of Health, with statistics on the course of the coronavirus until September 17, 2020. The average age...

“Diplomacy now has the floor”, Erdogan says in Twitter post

A 180° turn is observed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who, as shown by his recent post on a popular microblogging site, has decided to...

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 30.55 million, death toll at 951,051

More than 30.55 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 951,051 have died, according to a Reuters...

Man, 28, arrested for possession of cannabis

A man, aged 28, from Limassol, was arrested in Nicosia on Saturday night for possession of approximately one kilo of cannabis, police said on...

UK’s Johnson to levy 10,000 pound fine on COVID-19 rule-breakers

People in England who break new rules requiring them to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 will face...

Taste

Swordfish with aubergines

To toast the sesame seeds: place sesame seeds in a small non-stick frying pan over low heat and stir until you begin to smell...

Chicken with okra and bulgur wheat

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the okra until golden. Remove the okra, lay out in an oven tray and sprinkle with...

Ravioli

Just a little before serving, heat the broth and add the ravioli. (If the ravioli is frozen you don’t have to defrost). Heat them...

Seafood kebab with avocado salad

Place the mussels, shrimps and salmon in a bowl together with tarragon and lemon zest. Season and cover, keeping in the fridge for 15...