Offshore

Swiss Vote For Immigration Curbs - Now The EU Backlash Begins

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, London, 11 February 2014

articleimage

As expected, Swiss voters’ decision to support curbs on immigration from neighbouring European Union member states has prompted criticism from other European nations, raising the risk that the Alpine state could lose its privileged access to the EU single market.

As expected, Swiss voters’ decision to support curbs on immigration from neighbouring European Union member states has prompted criticism from other European nations, raising the risk that the Alpine state could lose its privileged access to the EU single market, media reports said.

The vote for immigration controls, supported by the right-of-centre Swiss People’s Party, or SVP, was carried by 50.3 percent of voters. Electors in the major Swiss financial (and wealth management) centres such as Zurich and Geneva opposed the move; voters in rural, predominantly German-speaking and Italian-speaking cantons supported it. Foreigners account for almost a quarter of the Swiss population.

"Switzerland has rather damaged itself with this result," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was quoted by Reuters as saying as he arrived in Brussels for a meeting with his EU colleagues. "Switzerland must realise that cherry picking with the EU is not a long-term strategy,” he said.

"There will be consequences, that's clear," said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. "You can't have privileged access to the European internal market and on the other hand, dilute free circulation,” he said. Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore called the result "very disturbing". "I think we have seen throughout Europe a growth in what I can only call an extreme-right agenda which is quite xenophobic," he told reporters.

Register for WealthBriefing today

Gain access to regular and exclusive research on the global wealth management sector along with the opportunity to attend industry events such as exclusive invites to Breakfast Briefings and Summits in the major wealth management centres and industry leading awards programmes