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Free movement


EU backs Swiss tough stance after immigration vote


The EU has voted to back tougher measures against Switzerland, following February’s Swiss vote to re-introduce quotas on immigration. Swiss voters’ decision went against the EU’s free movement of people accord.

The European ministers agreed on Tuesday to support a report into the European Union’s relationship with Switzerland, which made a link between the free movement of people and other issues, such as the Schengen agreement and the Dublin accord.

Although Switzerland is not part of the EU it has signed numerous bilateral agreements and was part of the deal between the countries to allow their citizens to move, live and work freely within EU and Swiss borders.

Since the initiative was voted-in, tensions have been high with the European body. In July, Switzerland asked for the chance to renegotiate the accord, but was turned down.
The Swiss government has three years from February 2014 to put the vote into law.

Luxembourg's minister for foreign and European affairs, Jean Asselborn, said before the meeting that the free movement of people was one of the “EU’s biggest achievements”.

He added that Switzerland needed to recognise how much the free movement of people had accomplished.

Michael Roth, the German minister for Europe, said that the free movement of people was one of the “fundamental achievements of European integration” that they  “wanted to hold on to”.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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