Vote on EU labour accord - background information in English
Berne, January 28, 2009 Voters have the final say on February 8 on an accord with the European Union granting mutual access to the labour markets. The internet platform swissinfo.ch will cover the vote with a dossier in English.
At stake is the continuation of the labour agreement, also known as the free movement of people accord, and whether it should be extended to the latest EU member states Bulgaria and Romania.
The ballot is considered one of the most important votes in recent years affecting relations with the EU – Switzerland's most important trading partner.
Rejection of the labour accord is likely to lead to the annulment of a set of seven bilateral accords in force since 2002.
Emotions are running high over the February ballot. Rightwing parties claim the extension of the labour accord to southeastern Europe will trigger a wave of immigrants that will lead to higher unemployment and put a strain on the Swiss social security system.
But the government, parliament the main parties to the centre right and centre left, as well as the business community maintain the labour treaty is crucial for the Swiss economy, for access to new markets and good relations with the EU.
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