The Swiss referendum to curb immigration from Europe has already had its first consequences. The European Commission has stalled negotiations with Switzerland to determine their participation in major research programs and the Erasmus project.
The EU executive has decided to freeze the contacts because the Swiss authorities have already started to implement the mandate of their citizenship and renounced the “open borders” policy that reigns all over the EU. Switzerland conducted a referendum in which a majority chose to limit immigration from other EU countries despite having a prior agreement with Brussels to begin implementing the free movement of new EU citizens.
“We expect clarification on this point before resuming other negotiations that are linked to the subject, as Horizon 2020, a major research program of the EU worth about 80,000 million euros, and Erasmus +, the new Erasmus, are extended,” said a EU spokesman.
Brussels had warned that freedom of movement between the two governing territories since 2002 was not negotiable and that if the Swiss government renounced welcoming Croats, as it had committed to do, the rest of negotiations would decay.
Although the Swiss Executive has not officially confirmed the decision to the Community authorities, the BBC reported Sunday that the Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, telephoned the Croatian Foreign Office Minister, Vesna Pusic, to say that Switzerland could not extend rights of free movement to newcomers to the European project. The European Commission says it understands the failure to comply after the referendum, but the measure, the organization says, is unacceptable.
Swiss participation in educational and research programs is of great interest to both parties. The Swiss Confederation contributes to the EU budget in these projects while it also benefits greatly from them.
The high level of development and innovation of the Swiss economy turns it ideal to receive a significant portion of research funds. Unlike other community items, such as agricultural, the research does not provide for territory, but for the quality of the project presented.
Before these two flagship programs, Brussels had already stalled negotiations on electricity markets also scheduled to be completed in the following days. Now, it has preemptively canceled workshops of research, before making a firm decision to paralyze them.
The fact that Switzerland has slammed the door shut for Croatians activates a process that will have consequences on the draft. The European Union had warned that an obstacle to free movement (like the Swiss have supported at the polls), would have consequences in other integration agreements signed between the two territories.
That means the repeal of agreements that allow advantageous access of Swiss products to the EU market, where the country sells 60% of its exports, or agreements regarding homogenization of air transport.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute. Read more about Luis.