After prevailing in a May 17 referendum to join the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the Swiss government is now after bigger game: joining the European Community. Swiss big business, from banks to companies like Nestl and abb, is already deeply integrated economically with ec countries. The country can't afford splendid isolation much longer.
But there will be some wrenching changes. The days of comfortable little cartels, in everything from banking to wine pricing in cafs, are numbered. Swiss companies will be under pressure to change their statutes to allow takeovers by EC bidders. Eventually, restrictions on real estate purchases and work permits may have to be eased for EC citizens, and that will roil ultranationalist naysayers. So, the government will have an even tougher selling job to win a referendum on joining the EC.