Swiss Government Weighs Next Steps in Immigration Reform

Switzerland’s government is evaluation how to proceed with immigration reform after voters approved quotas for newcomers.

To implement the Feb. 9 “yes” vote on a referendum to “stop mass immigration,” the government plans to draw up an implementation plan by June and present a draft law by the end of this year. Simultaneously, it will hold talks with the European Union, it said today.

The government “will continue to work intensively on implementing the new immigration system, successively clarifying open questions and striving to achieve the best possible solutions in terms of domestic and foreign policy,” it said in an e-mailed statement.

Switzerland’s vote to impose quotas on immigrants, most of whom come from the neighboring EU, has run afoul with officials in Brussels and other European capitals because it is contrary to the free movement of persons pact to which Switzerland previously agreed. That pact is part of a bigger agreement with the EU, which also includes trade and market access. It features a “guillotine” clause that nullifies all parts if one falls.

The 28-member bloc is the biggest destination for Swiss exports, causing companies to warn that voting to curb immigration would damage the economy.

Members of the Swiss government “will use their bilateral meetings in the coming weeks and months” with EU officials and member states to sort out the conflict, it said.

The government also said it would “clarify whether the agreement to extend the freedom of movement to Croatia should form part of a renegotiation” or should be settled in advance.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Bosley in Zurich at cbosley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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