Will Swiss vote on migration quota break country’s Unity?
by FFE EU News Staff
National unity had always been central to Switzerland’s political climate. This is why Switzerland always takes a neutral stand in international conflicts and why the government is always a coalition.
But Sunday’s vote turnout on the country’s migration policy has led to a crack in national unity which Justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga said may result in ‘far reaching consequences.’
The Swiss vote on putting a cap in migration showed an almost equal divide between the western French region (49.7% no to migration cap) and the eastern German-Italian region (50.3% yes to migration cap) of Switzerland. The almost 50/50 turnout has created tension in the country, which once again emphasised the linguistic and cultural division among communities.
The proposal that seeks to set a quota on migration says that this measure will help nationals be prioritised in the labour market. But while the implementation of the migration quota remains to be set to stone, tension among migrants are high. Non-Swiss citizens are feeling uncomfortable as the quota may affect their jobs. Businesses relying on EU employees also feel the tension as the quota may affect their competitiveness.
But more than just creating tension inside the country, the Swiss vote to put a quota in migration has churned its relationship with the EU especially since the quota clashes with the EU policy on free movement of people. Switzerland is not an EU member state but it participates in the Union’s single market system that guarantees free movement of goods.
EU Justice commissioner Viviane Reding clarified that free movement of people, goods, capital and services is not separable: ‘The single market is not a Swiss cheese — you cannot have a single market with holes in it.’ The EU is currently Switzerland’s largest trading partner.