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Political Perspective: Switzerland told it cannot terminate free movement agreement

by Iain Donaldson on 14 October, 2015

There are those who cite Switzerland as an example of a non EU Country that is able to negotiate trade on favourable terms, but the reality of Switzerland’s position makes a strong case for Britain to remain in the EU.

On 9 February 2014 Switzerland voted “Against Mass Immigration” and in favour employers giving preference to Swiss nationals when hiring workers. Brussels refused any renegotiation of the freedom of movement agreement to facilitate this and the first consequence has been a 25% cut in the number of EU students attending Swiss Universities and the stalling of plans to cut Swiss electricity costs by interconnecting their supplies with those of the EU.

On 7th July Switzerland sent a formal letter to the EU explaining that the existing free movement agreement was incompatible with the amendment to the Swiss constitution and requesting a renegotiation of the treaty. After consulting the member states, Britain’s EU Commissioner, Lady Ashton, replied that “the European Union was not able to respond positively” to this request.

The EU has stated that it is impossible to enjoy one fundamental freedom without guaranteeing the others, stating that “The question of the free movement of people cannot be brushed aside.

In addition to requiring that Switzerland re-open its borders, the EU is now also demanding that its banking system be opened to EU scrutiny before normal relations can be restored.

With Britain having taken the lead on preventing Switzerland from closing her borders, anyone who thinks that the EU would permit Britain to close her borders needs to think again. The reality is that in order to get a trade deal with Europe the first thing that Britain would have to do is hand control of her borders to an EU in which we would no longer have any say.