A group supported by public figures – including clown Dimitri, rapper Greis and football player Andy Egli – will start collecting signatures to reverse the decision to introduce immigration quotas on European Union nationals taken earlier this year.
The group, called “Raus aus der Sackgasse!” (RASA) – German for “out of a dead end”, roughly – wants to offer a plan B if implementing the immigration restrictions lead to the cancellation of the bilateral agreements with the European Union.
The group has until June 2, 2016, to collect 100,000 signatures for an initiative to revoke the re-introduction of immigration quotas. The initiative committee wants Swiss citizens to be able to cast their vote on the proposal before February 9, 2017.
On February 9, 2014, Swiss voters approved a plan by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party to re-introduce quotas on EU nationals. Bilateral relations between Switzerland and the EU have been strained since then.
As a result of the February vote, researchers in Switzerland have been excluded from top research programmes of the EU, and Brussels has made it repeatedly clear that it has no plans to renegotiate the free movement of people accord, which it considers an integral part of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU.
Reverse a decision
The group now wants to edit the Swiss constitution, which now states that Switzerland may autonomously control immigration with quotas.
According to the RASA group, it is currently unclear whether it is possible to keep the bilateral agreements while introducing quotas. If that’s possible, the committee would revoke its own initiative, it said.
However, “should a cancellation be unavoidable, we want to give Swiss voters the option to reconsider the decision of February 9,” RASA member Leo Caprez explained.
RASA is supported by about 300 people, including public figures from the fields of politics, industry, research and the arts.
They include former cabinet minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, former federal judge Giusep Nay, artist Pipilotti Rist and billionaire businessman Hansjörg Wyss, as well as historian Georg Kreis, medical researcher Brigitte von Rechenberg, democracy expert Andreas Auer und law professor Thomas Geiser.
swissinfo.ch and agencies