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Schulz: Switzerland faces many negotiations if it limits freedom of movement

Others Article - External relations / Free movement of persons10-02-2014 - 15:35
Cars stand at the checkpoint between Kreuzlingen, Switzerland and Konstanz, Germany. © BELGA_Patrick Seeger   Swiss border © BELGA_Patrick Seeger

Switzerland risks having to renegotiate its agreements with the EU, warned EP President Martin Schulz after voters backed the introduction of quotas for migrants in a referendum. “If Switzerland has to modify laws and to limit free movement also for EU citizens, then we have to react, discuss and perhaps negotiate the agreements," he said. “It is difficult to limit the free movement of citizens and not limit the free movement of services, for example. We have many negotiations ahead."

More than a million EU citizens live and work in Switzerland, while about 430,000 Swiss live in the EU, which is the country’s largest trading partner.

Freedom of movement since 2002

The freedom of movement within the EU and Switzerland has been guaranteed since 2002. The agreement giving people from the EU and Switzerland the right to enter, live and work wherever they like was signed in 1999 as part of a package of seven agreements.

“It is up to the Swiss government to decide if they suspend the agreements with us or not," said Mr Schulz.. "As long as Switzerland does not react, the agreements exist."

The “guillotine clause"

If Switzerland is no longer able to fulfil the conditions of the agreement on the free movement of people, all the other agreements signed in 1999 are at risk,under a clause in the agreements. 

REF. : 20140210STO35502