The Swiss vote to bring back strict immigration quotas for Europeans draws criticism from France, Germany and Brussels.
France and Germany have voiced concern about Switzerland’s vote to bring back strict quotas for immigration from EU countries.
Final results showed 50.3% voted in favor. The vote invalidates the Swiss-EU agreement on freedom of movement.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the vote would cause “a host of difficulties for Switzerland”.
France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “It will hurt Switzerland to be inward-looking.”
The initiative to hold the referendum was spearheaded by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), amid increasing debate across Europe about migration and the impact of free movement of people.
Fiercely independent Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but has adopted large sections of EU policy.
The European Commission said it regretted the outcome of the vote and would examine its implications.
Freedom of movement is a key pillar of the EU single market – a market which accounts for more than half of Swiss exports.
The vote has shown up traditional divisions, with French-speaking areas against the quotas, German-speaking regions divided, and the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino firmly in favor.
In addition, cities with higher than average numbers of foreigners – Basel, Geneva and Zurich – voted against the quota proposal, while rural areas mostly voted for it.
Switzerland’s economy is booming at the moment, and unemployment is low, but many Swiss worry about immigration.
Last year 80,000 new immigrants arrived in Switzerland, and foreigners now make up 23% of the population. It is the continent’s second highest foreign population after Luxembourg.
In a statement, the European Commission said the Swiss vote “goes against the principle of free movement of persons between the EU and Switzerland”.
“The EU will examine the implications of this initiative on EU-Swiss relations as a whole,” the European Commission added.
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