German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned against rushing to punish Switzerland for its vote to curb immigration.
Merkel was speaking as she met with the Swiss president in Berlin following the February 9th referendum result.
“Our talks were in the spirit that we obviously respect it,” said Merkel, refering to the referendum outcome. “In my view, the challenge will now be that we deal with the result in a way that relations between the European Union and Switzerland remain as intense as possible.”
President Didier Burkhalter criticised the EU for halting talks on education and research cooperation.
Swiss voters, by a slender margin, called on the government to re-introduce quotas, even for workers from EU countries.
Burkhalter said: “There’s no reason for stopping everything because of a decision that has not even come into force. during that time, there is no reason to stop research work between Switzerland and the EU. This would surely not be in the interest of Europe.”
Since 2007, EU citizens have enjoyed equal footing in the labour market in Switzerland. Prior to that, firms had a number of bureaucratic hurdles to clear before employing an EU national.
Supporters of new caps say it will stop EU workers undercutting Swiss wages and ease pressure on social services.