Switzerland’s government and business leaders are celebrating a “yes” vote in a nationwide referendum that will open its job market to the ten new members of the EU.
Creeping slowly towards further cooperation with the EU, the labour accord is part of a series of agreements approved by voters between Switzerland and the then 15 member union.
Swiss president Samuel Schmid said voters had consolidated good relations between their country and an enlarged European Union:
“Today, the Swiss people have decided to extend the free movement of people to the new EU countries. At the same time measures to protect against an influx of cheap labour have been adopte,” he said.
Citizens of eight European countries as well as Cyprus and Malta will be able to travel and work freely in Switzerland. But quotas will be applied on the numbers coming in for the next six years – an example already set by many full EU members.
56 per cent of the electorate voted for the proposal. Swiss citizens will also be able to work and settle in the new EU countries.