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Switzerland votes on free movement regime with EU

At the end of September, Switzerland will host a referendum on restricting the free cross-border movement of citizens in accordance with an agreement signed with the EU. The vote is initiated by the populist Swiss People's Party, which insists on withdrawing from the agreement so that the country itself can regulate immigration. If the initiative is adopted, it will mean the automatic denunciation of six other agreements between Bern and Brussels — including those concerning the country's access to the common market. What are all these body movements fraught with?

We need to prevent 'Schwexit'!

If the proposal is approved, it will be disastrous, writes Die Presse:

“The initiative put forward by the right-wing populist Swiss People's Party is directed primarily against EU citizens, as they make up two-thirds of immigrants in Switzerland. ... And all this against the background of the fact that Switzerland has unlimited access to the EU internal market — it accounts for more than half of Swiss exports. The free movement of citizens is one of the four pillars of this common market that cannot be bargained for. Severe restrictions as a result will automatically lead to a kind of 'wait' from the common market. ... The political leadership, and not only in Switzerland, should think carefully about what went wrong. After all, a step back — to the divided nation-states — would be a disaster.”

Time to talk openly about migration

According to SonntagsZeitung, this vote represents a chance to discuss a topic that has long been taboo:

“The initiatives put forward by the Swiss People's Party are in the eyes of many people something inherently reprehensible. And even more so when they are not supported by any other party — as is now the case with the initiative to limit the regime of free movement with the EU. The debate is impeded by the reputation of the initiator — after all, no one wants to appear as a supporter of these 'isolationists', 'retrogrades', and 'xenophobes'. ... Thinking about migration issues and arguing on these topics is, of course, not the most pleasant thing, and even tiring. Here, pitfalls are hidden everywhere: if you say something wrong, you will immediately be discredited in the eyes of others. And the fact that today many people prefer not to say anything at all on these topics is understandable but dangerous: this is how dissatisfaction accumulates, which, perhaps, will later find a way out in another way. The initiative to restrict freedom of movement is an invitation to debate despite all the difficulties.”

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