A Swiss group seeking to reverse a decision to introduce immigration quotas on European Union nationals has announced it is satisfied with how the quotas have been implemented and is therefore withdrawing its initiative.
Members of the group “Raus aus der Sackgasse!” (RASA) – German for “out of a dead end” – said on Tuesday the 2014 vote which triggered their demands had since been implemented without harming the free movement of people, their main concern.
“We could not and would not accept that [Switzerland’s] bilateral accords with the EU were put at risk like this,” said Franziska Barmettler from the organising committee. That scenario had not come to pass, she added, pointing out that the RASA initiative had helped smooth the way for this.
Until now, the group had said it would withdraw its initiative only if parliament came up with a counterproposal. That hadn’t happened, so the group had reassessed the situation, said co-initiator Thomas Geiser.
Almost four years ago 50.3% of Swiss voters backed a plan supported by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party to place limits on foreigners living in the Alpine nation.
Implementing the vote within three years became an immense headache for the Swiss authorities, who had to reconcile the referendum result with an EU pact that guarantees the free movement of workers.
In December 2016, parliament found a compromise by deciding to change the law to prioritise Swiss workers instead of fixing quotas on workers from the EU.
This compromise that was not to the liking of the People’s Party, who termed it a betrayal of the will of the Swiss people.
In June 2017, the People’s Party said it would launch a second people’s initiative to limit immigration from European Union countries. This, it explained would aim to ensuring “hard” restrictions were implemented, unlike what it considered the watering down of its successful campaign in 2014.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/ts