A public petition in Switzerland has garnered sufficient signatures to force another nationwide referendum on the issue of imposing quotas on European Union (EU) nationals immigrating to the republic. A similar referendum passed in 2014 with just 50.3 percent in favor of quotas, requiring the Swiss government to impose quotas by the end of 2017 (see our Global Brief of March 19, 2014). The Swiss government has yet to implement the mandated quotas on EU nationals and campaigned publically against the current petition, fearing it could trigger retaliatory measures from its EU trading partners and hurt the Swiss economy.
The petition to once again bring the issue to a nationwide vote comes on the heels of Switzerland’s formal June withdrawal of its 24-year-old dormant application to join the EU. Currently Switzerland’s diplomatic and trade relations with the EU are governed by a myriad of 120 bilateral agreements between the Swiss and individual EU member nations.