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Swiss pro-European group stands by EU membership referendum

The initiative calls for immediate opening of negotiations on Swiss EU membership


A Swiss pro-European group decided on Saturday to pursue its call for a vote on full membership of the European Union. The New European Movement in Switzerland (NOMES)said its demand for a referendum had raised the profile of the Swiss accession debate.

The "Yes to Europe" people's initiative calls on the government to push forward negotiations with European leaders. The initiative also calls for the creation of conditions that would permit the Swiss people to vote on adhesion in 2006.

In 1996, NOMES collected enough signatures to force a popular vote. But no date has yet been set for a poll.

In May this year, the Swiss voters approved a series of bilateral accords with the EU, covering a range of mainly economic issues, from transport to labour movement.

Opponents of full EU membership reportedly hoped the bilaterals would satisfy NOMES, and that the "Yes to Europe" initiative would be withdrawn.

swissinfo with agencies

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