Home > News > World
Sunday February 16, 2014 MYT 11:50:02 PM
Sunday February 16, 2014 MYT 11:50:50 PM
ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland has told the newest European Union member, Croatia, that it will not be able to sign a labour market pact as planned on July 1, following a shock referendum vote in favour of immigration curbs.
The pact is the second casualty of last week's narrow vote to curtail immigration from the EU, after talks on a cross-border electricity agreement between the bloc and Switzerland were put on hold this week.
"The agreement with Croatia cannot be signed in the form that was agreed on due to the new constitutional provision provided by the February 9 vote," government spokesman Philipp Schwander said on Sunday.
He said Switzerland was still keen to seal the deal with Croatia in a way that took the vote into account and did not discriminate against Croatian workers.
The referendum, backed by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), has sent Swiss diplomats scrambling to contain the damage in Brussels, as officials there warn of "serious consequences" for Swiss ties with the EU.
Free movement of labour is one of the EU's fundamental principles and EU officials have told Switzerland it cannot cherry-pick the benefits of market access without accepting the obligations it entails.
Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga is in Austria for a previously planned trip on Monday, while Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter flies to Berlin to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday.
Though both sides appear eager to maintain their trade relations, Switzerland has more to lose, in the shape of privileged access to a single EU market of 500 million people.
Swiss weekend newspapers were full of suggestions for what to do next, including calls by the Socialist Party for a new vote.
Swiss business leaders say they are increasingly concerned about other popular votes coming up, including one on May 18 to install the world's highest minimum wage, 22 Swiss francs (14.43 pounds) an hour. Another, set for late in the year, seeks to cap population growth through immigration at 0.2 percent a year.
(Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
Merkel urges patience with Swiss after immigration vote
Europe warns Swiss of consequences after immigration vote
Swiss immigration vote is 'collective suicide' - French minister
Swiss vote split on reintroducing immigration quotas
Swiss immigration vote shows loss of trust in business elite - minister
Italy's Renzi clears hurdle in parliament on labour law
Bulgarian forces raid homes and mosque, detain prayer leader
Missouri governor orders more troops to Ferguson after riots
Syrian government air strikes kill 63 in Raqqa - monitoring group
Mexico's embattled government poised to unveil law and order measures
Sri Lanka's Catholic Church urges government not to use pope's visit to help election campaign
Dita Von Teese plays tourist in Kuala Lumpur
EU lawmakers say not forging ideological war against Google
Atletico's in-form Tiago enjoying himself 'like a child'
Copyright © 1995-2014 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)