EU News: The danger of a “Swiss Brexit” as a critical referendum triggers panic in Brussels | World | News

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The Swiss will go to the polls on September 27 to decide whether or not the country should abandon an agreement between Switzerland, which has always resisted the temptation to join the EU, and the Brussels bloc guaranteeing free movement between the two. The referendum aimed at abolishing the free movement of European citizens across Switzerland has been touted as Bern’s “Brexit moment”.

Such a move would deal a heavy blow to Brussels following the UK’s decision to leave the trading bloc.As part of the plan backed by the far-right Swiss People’s Party, Switzerland’s free movement agreement would either be renegotiated with Brussels within the next 12 months, or abandoned altogether.

Critics have warned that bilateral trade deals between Switzerland and the EU could be at risk if Switzerland votes against free movement.

Switzerland will hold a referendum in September on its free movement with the EU (Image: GETTY)

The Swiss will go to the polls on September 27 (Image: GETTY)

A total of 2.1 million immigrants lived in Switzerland in 2019.

The Swiss government calls on citizens to reject plans to end free movement, warning that this would have “serious consequences for the jobs and prosperity” of the nation.

A statement said: “The initiative calls for an end to the free movement of people with the EU.

“Its acceptance would have serious consequences for jobs and prosperity in our country, and at a time when the economy needs stability and prospects. “

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Switzerland is not a member of the EU (Image: GETTY)

ACLI President Giuseppe Rauseo said: “If the initiative wins, the agreement on the free movement of people between the Swiss Confederation and the EU, which governs the lives of more than 1.7 million people in Switzerland, would be abolished with serious consequences in terms of loss of rights.

“Without this agreement, we would go back in time and many people, including the many Italian citizens in Switzerland, would find themselves in a situation of dire economic and social precariousness.

“The initiative would affect workers, families, students and even minors.

“The victory of the initiative would also mark a break in bilateral agreements with the EU, isolating Switzerland from Europe.

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EU News

Critics have warned that bilateral trade deals between Switzerland and the EU could be at risk if Switzerland votes against free movement (Image: GETTY)

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Referendum to abolish free movement of European citizens across Switzerland has been touted as Bern’s “Brexit moment” (Image: GETTY)

“The economic consequences of such an approach, as illustrated by numerous studies on the subject, would be very serious and would lead to unprecedented political and social instability in the country.

“University teaching and research, Swiss flagships, would for example be brought to their knees due to the termination of bilateral agreements.

“If the Federal Council recommends rejecting the initiative, it is because the cancellation of the agreement would in fact amount to a Swiss Brexit”,

Switzerland’s relationship with the EU is complex.

Switzerland is not a member state of the bloc, but is associated with Brussels through a series of bilateral treaties.

According to the preamble of the EU decision ratifying the agreements: “The seven agreements are intimately linked to each other by the requirement that they must enter into force at the same time and that they must cease to apply in at the same time, six months after receipt of a notice of non-renewal or denunciation concerning one of them. ”

The agreement covers free movement, air traffic, road traffic, agriculture, trade barriers, science and public procurement.

A bilateral agreement covers the Schengen area.

The EU-Switzerland relationship is currently governed by 120 bilateral economic agreements, which should erode over time if not updated.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega



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