THE SWISS decision to bring in migration quotas for EU citizens may become a blueprint for negotiations between the UK government and Brussels, commentators said yesterday.
Sunday’s referendum was narrowly won by campaigners in favour of further restrictions on immigration, including on migrants from the rest of Europe. The result is likely to provoke a round of talks between EU authorities and the Swiss government, which cannot unilaterally change one aspect of its deal with Brussels without potentially affecting other areas.
“We have many negotiations ahead,” said European Parliament president Martin Schulz, adding that freedom of movement came as a package with free exchange of services.
Pawel Swidlicki of think tank Open Europe said: “The two sides will have to enter into tough negotiations which could set down a marker in the event the UK were to leave the EU. A favourable result for Switzerland would galvanise proponents of a Brexit while the opposite would cast doubt on whether Britain could retain full access to the single market outside of the EU.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he will renegotiate the UK’s terms of membership of the EU, ahead of an in-or-out referendum.
Alan Halsall of Business for Britain, a pressure group for renegotiating the UK’s membership of the EU, said: “The Swiss have fired the starting gun on challenging the fundamental principles of the EU. The Brussels elite may be squealing, but how the EU formally responds to the Swiss decision will be very instructive.”
Berenberg’s Christian Schulz called the new challenge posed by the Swiss vote a “test case” for future changes to the structure of the EU. “Britain clearly has a much stronger negotiating position as a large EU member. But allowing the strong member states to shun solidarity would weaken the EU's appeal,” Schulz said.