France and Germany have voiced concern about Switzerland’s vote to bring back strict quotas for immigration from European Union countries.
Final results showed 50.3% voted in favour. The vote invalidates the Swiss-EU agreement on freedom of movement.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the vote would cause “a host of difficulties for Switzerland”.
France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said “it will hurt Switzerland to be inward-looking”.
The initiative to hold the referendum was spearheaded by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), amid increasing debate across Europe about migration and the impact of free movement of people.
Germans in Switzerland uncertain of future
German immigrants to Switzerland feel unsettled - but not surprised. The Swiss, they say, are both tolerant and xenophobic. What they can’t imagine is how the country will get by with fewer trained workers.
Eberhard Wolff is anything but surprised. The German literary scholar from the Ulm area works in Zurich and has lived in Switzerland for years. He is well aware that the Swiss are of two minds when it comes to foreign residents.
“As a German in Switzerland, you get the feeling you’re not really accepted,” Wolff told DW. On the other hand, Switzerland is “extremely friendly to foreigners, and has time and again taken in strangers in difficult times.”
So there are Swiss who have a reserved, at times even xenophobic, attitude toward foreigners on the one hand, and tolerant Swiss on the other - Wolff’s perception mirrors the result of Sunday’s referendum. The margin was slim: 50.3 percent voted for limits on EU immigration, and just below 50 percent voted for the free movement of citizens to and from the EU.
The vote will have far-reaching consequences for foreigners, including an estimated 300,000 Germans living in Switzerland. Switzerland will reintroduce immigration quotas: In the future, EU citizens may only live and work in Switzerland if they are urgently needed.
Racism has just been redefined. :rolleyes: