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Star gazing


Swiss put EU bilaterals over immigration quotas


More than two out of three Swiss citizens prefer keeping the bilateral accords with the European Union according to an opinion poll. They said the re-introduction of immigration quotas should be scrapped despite a divisive nationwide vote more than ten months ago.

The survey, published in the Hebdo magazine, found that only 26% of those interviewed would give priority to the immigration caps at the expense of the bilateral treaties.

A slight majority of respondents are cautiously optimistic that the Swiss government will find a compromise with the 28-nation bloc in negotiations on future bilateral ties, the survey says.

The Lausanne-based economic and social research institute, MIS trend, polled 1,349 citizens in Switzerland’s three main language regions. The margin of error is 2.7%.

No further technical details of the survey were given.

Votes

In February, Swiss voters narrowly approved a proposal to re-introduce immigration quotas for EU citizens, putting an additional strain on bilateral relations between Brussels and Switzerland.

The initiative by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party effectively calls for a suspension of the free movement of people principle – a key policy tenet of the EU. Observers say the move also jeopardizes a series of major accords with Switzerland’s main trading partner.

In November, a separate proposal by ecologists to cap annual immigration to 0.2% of net population growth was overwhelmingly rejected at the ballot box.

The government is due to announce a mandate next month for planned negotiations with Brussels on future bilateral ties.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch and agencies



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