Switzerland held a referendum on the termination of the agreement with the EU on the free movement of people. Its initiators hoped that they would be able to restrict immigration from the European Union, but the majority of the inhabitants of the Confederation did not support them.
The Swiss Opposed the Restriction of Immigration; The initiator of the popular vote was the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest in the country’s parliament: in its opinion, the agreement with the European Union limits the Confederation too much in matters of regulating labor immigration. Residents of the country were asked to break the agreement. Politicians argue that immigration threatens Swiss culture, that young foreigners are pushing older locals out of the labor market, and that their influx is causing a housing shortage.
Radio Liberty reports that the hopes of the SVP did not come true: 38% of the referendum participants voted “for” and 62% – “against”.
In fact, even before the referendum, opinion polls showed that the Swiss are not eager to fence themselves off from the EU, since in the event of a breach of the agreement, the Confederation’s economy is likely to lose much more than it gains. In particular, many industries will be short of qualified workers, while Swiss companies may face problems in their most important EU market.
In 2019, almost 70% of the 2.1 million foreigners permanently residing in Switzerland were from the EU. At the same time, more than 450,000 Swiss live in the European Union.