EU officials have expressed their disappointment at the Swiss referendum result.
France described the outcome as “worrying”, whilst German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the outcome was against Switzerland’s own economic interests.
“Quite simply because Switzerland makes a living from the reputation as an open country in the middle of Europe,” Berlin’s top diplomat told reporters in Brussels.
“Secondly, because the economic success of Switzerland in recent years has always been dependent on enough skilled immigration coming from neighbouring EU countries.”
Steinmeier’s counterpart from Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, warned the Swiss that cannot cherry-pick which EU benefits that should apply in their country.
“You can not on one hand have a privileged access to the EU internal market and on the other hand dilute free movement – the two are related, that’s clear,” he said.
Euronews’ Frederic Bouchard said the result could have serious implications for EU-Swiss relations.
“In saying ‘no’ to the free movement of people, Switzerland may have shot itself in the foot because it calls into question the bilateral agreements struck with the European Union after years of tough negotiations,” our correspondent said.
A so-called guillotine clause – which means all bilateral agreements with the EU are linked to each other – means all of them may collapse.
Our correspondent adds that this result is also a warning to the European Union.
“The Swiss vote strengthens the hand of populist and xenophobic parties in certain Member States, with just 100 days to go until the European elections,” he said.