SWITZERLAND will vote on a referendum that if passed would unilaterally cancel free movement between their country and the EU unless a waiver is agreed upon within a year.
The EU has insisted that their citizens be allowed to work and live freely in the non-EU Switzerland in exchange for Swiss access to the single market. However, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest party in Swiss Parliament, has pushed for Switzerland to end free-movement. The SVP says that it leaves the country without the ability to manage population growth and is an attack on their sovereignty.
After the threshold for signatures was met, a referendum is planned to be held on whether Switzerland should end free-movement of not.
It is unknown how much support there is throughout the country for allowing the EU free-movement.
Switzerland’s seven-member cabinet has come out in support of free movement, saying that restricting free movement would severely harm the country’s efforts to attract qualified works, slow economic growth by limiting exports and it would raise the costs of EU imports.
Justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga said: “Cancelling the free movement of people would fundamentally call into question the bilateral path for Switzerland and Europe.”
The SVP launched a campaign for a referendum to be held on immigration after lawmakers stopped short of setting quotas on EU immigration in 2016.
If the referendum passes, then Switzerland would have 12 months to negotiate a waiver with the EU for free-movement or free movement will end.