Swiss cabinet urges voters to reject immigration curbs

Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, citizens of the 27-nation bloc can work freely in the country.

Swiss cabinet urges voters to reject immigration curbs

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Swiss cabinet recommended on Wednesday that voters reject an initiative to impose quotas on immigrants from European Union countries, saying it would compromise Switzerland's bilateral agreements with the bloc.

The initiative "against mass immigration" proposed by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) is seeking to amend the constitution and set annual quotas on permits granted to foreigners.

Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, citizens of the 27-nation bloc can work freely in the country.

The SVP is fiercly against closer links with the EU and has bemoaned the opening of the country's borders. It is Switzerland's biggest party and holds one ministerial seat on the seven-member cabinet.

"Terminating the free movement of people agreement would have serious consequences for the Swiss economy which earns every second franc in the EU," Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told a news conference in Berne.

Switzerland has already drawn strong criticism from European officials for its decision to reimpose temporary quotas on workers from central and eastern Europe.

The cabinet also recommended on Wednesday that voters reject a proposal to introduce a nationwide minimum wage of 22 Swiss francs per hour.

Both initiatives have been launched under Switzerland's traditional direct democracy, which allows proposals to be put to public vote if 100,000 valid signatures are gathered within an 18-month period.

Referendums are held several times a year at national, regional and local level on a wide range of topics ranging from working hours to smoking bans.

Last Mod: 04 Temmuz 2012, 17:49
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