BERN – The referendum proposal to reintroduce immigration quotas in Switzerland has narrowly won today, after long weeks of heated debate. 50.3% of the Swiss voters has said yes to the proposal which invalidates the Swiss-EU agreement on freedom of movement. The referendum has split the country, with the French-speaking areas against the quotas and the Italian-speaking ones in favour, while the German-speaking regions were divided between the supporters of the proposal, who argued that uncontrolled immigration has put pressure on the housing, education and health care while driving salaries down, and the government which said that the reintroduction of those quotas will undermine Switzerland’s actual economic success.
Despite it is not part of the European Union, Switzerland had adopted many EU policies and in 2000, after a referendum, it opened its local labour market to EU citizens, which now make up around 25% of Switzerland’s eight million inhabitants. Last year, 80,000 new immigrants arrived in the country, attracted by a booming economy which contrasts with that of Switzerland’s crisis-ridden neighbours. The EU has reacted to the referendum’s results, reaffirming that Switzerland cannot choose only those aspects of the EU policy that it likes.
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