Switzerland held a referendum on Sunday the 27 September 2020 to decide if they should end “the free movement of people agreement” with the EU.
Over 60% voted in favour of free movement.
The poster campaign during the last few months has been bitter. Too much is too much!
The top story today of a leading swiss newspaper reads “Local zoo worries about gorilla family” as the remainers have control of the press. (sound familiar?)
Switzerland has fought vigorously avoiding EU membership by signing over 200 bilateral treaties which allows a working relationship. One of those treaties (The freedom-of-movement agreement) signed in 1999 meant that the swiss could live and work in the EU as well as allowing certain EU member states (not all) permission to live and work in Switzerland.
Withdrawing from one treaty would render the other ones invalid. The EU will not allow “cherry picking” (sound familiar?).
The freedom-of-movement agreement has caused an influx of around 80.000 EU immigrants each year – and this in a country of just 8.1 million. This resulted in a massive downturn in wages in all sectors as foreign workers were prepared to accept much reduced wages. 30 to 40 percent of health workers in Switzerland are foreigners. At the same time due to the largest population growth the country had experienced since the 1960s the price of houses and rented accommodation increased dramatically.
Experts and other Swiss parliamentarians believe it would have had disastrous consequences had the people voted YES to ending free movement, plunging a healthy economy into recession. Switzerland’s trade with Germany alone is more than its trade with USA and China combined.
Thomas Aeschi of “Swiss People’s Party” who initiated the referendum believes the only likely effect is “the Swiss will eat less French cheese and the French will eat less Swiss cheese”.
The timing is interesting as Britain enters the final phase of Brexit negotiations whereby “free movement of people” is a sticking point.