The British sovereign has done a democratic decision. Now interested Europeans expect a factual reporting in the media. Instead, more than 90 per cent of the media – also in Switzerland – are badmouthing with displeasure and bleakest forecasts the 17,410,742 British voters in favour of the withdrawal from the European Union. In Berne President Johann Schneider-Ammann appears stony-faced in front of the media and declares that the withdrawal of Britain from the EU could have negative consequences for Switzerland, for example for the economic cycle and the Swiss Franc exchange rate – although he keeps saying at the same time: “It is but pointless to speculate on the specific effects of the British decision.”1 – He’s really right! Do you remember the No of the Swiss people voting on joining the EEA on 6 December 1992? At that time the worst consequences were forecasted up to a collapse of the Swiss economy, but nothing alike happened. On the contrary: in the ten years before the Bilateral Agreements I with the EU (1.6.2002) came into force, it went very well for Switzerland and the Swiss, even without access to the EU internal market.
Now and again we should remind those Swiss who too eagerly strive for unconditional consensus with the EU headquarters. And it is to wish that the British will not be too much impressed by the cries of naysayers, but begin to find a way on their own. The doors of the EFTA – the United Kingdom was among its founding members in 1960 and left it in 1973 under the pressure of the Big Brother on the other side of the pond, to join the EC – are open in any case.
Back to the media conference in Berne. In reality, Mr Schneider-Ammann wants, with his troubled hints, something completely different. It’s a fact that there is no progress in managing the regulation of immigration the way it’s decided by the Swiss people. So the British referendum is as if on cue for the Federal Council. He uses it as an excuse, as this summer an amicable solution with Brussels will probably not come. Indeed he “continues to be very interested to continue the ongoing talks with the European Union on the implementation of Article 121a of the Federal Constitution.” […] But it would be clear “that the search for solutions is not getting any easier with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom.”
The attentive citizen remains, however, in the dark, not knowing what these two things have to do with each other. A few people within the tens of thousands of administrative employees and diplomats in Brussels may still have some time to deal with the Swiss matter. Schneider Ammann’s colleague Didier Burkhalter does not share his view, by the way, but wants now to “act quickly” in the process to solve the question of the Personal Freedom of Movement. He leaves open, whether it may be possible to find an agreement, but he recalls that Switzerland “is an important export country for the European Union.” (“Neue Zürcher Zeitung” from 25.6.2016)
In accordance with the referendum of 9 February 2014 the law which should regulate the Management of Immigration with maximum numbers and quotas as well as the primacy of the Switzerland-based workers when applying for a job, would have to come into force within three years (i.e. up to the 9 February 2017); the freedom of movement agreement (FZA) would then to be renegotiated with the EU, if the EU does not agree with the legal regulation of Switzerland.2
Well, the Federal Council’s message to the Parliament with a draft of the necessary amendments to the Aliens Act – based closely on the wording of the Constitution article – is available since 4 March 2016. But if Brussels will agree on a safeguard clause setting thresholds and quota for immigration decided by Switzerland (Plan A of the Federal Council) is written in the stars. And plan B, the unilateral decision of the safeguard clause by Switzerland, as well. Because the majority within the Parliament blocks: The parliamentary groups of FDP, CVP and SP don’t want a solution, which is contrary to the freedom of movement agreement with the EU. That is to say bluntly rejecting the literal implementation of Article 121 a BV (Source: “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” from 25 June 2016) Thus, they put the bilateral agreements before the Federal Constitution, or the voice of Brussels before the ballot box decisions of their own people.
It’s a forward pass for Brussels. In addition, since 9 February 2014 single federal councillors and their negotiators commute a lot between Berne and Brussels, to get the verdict by the Commission verified: “Free movement is non-negotiable.”
Not true! As in the agreement is the following Article:
Article 18 revision
“If a signatory party wishes a revision of this convention, it submits a proposal to the Joint Committee. The change of this Agreement comes into force upon completion of the respective internal procedures; […]”
Rather than to claim this contractual right for Switzerland, our “servants of the people” put themselves on the side of the great power in Brussels. More than clear, that the EU negotiators are not responsive. Why should they, if the contractors submit themselves every cough from Brussels in anticipation? A Swiss negotiator like Walter Stucki (who succeeded against heavy caliber like Nazi Germany in the 1930s or the Western allies after the Second World War, because for him the interests and needs of Switzerland stand in the first place) for sure would get more out in Brussels – especially because Switzerland as Federal Councillor Burkhalter has correctly noted, is a by no means negligible trade partner for the EU. •
1 Point de Presse – Brexit, speech by Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann from 24.6.2016
2 Federal Constitution Article 121 a; 9 transitional provision Article 197.92 (new), Article 121a (immigration control)Tem que ommos dent, sunt ipsa idesendi nessit mo explatum ant, omnimpedis sinvenis maiosap ienderf erferum reptatecae vid maxim iurerum quaeseque quiduci entiossi ut quassed qui ut eost, aborum faccaes ressinvendae est et, nisquam, si dipietureres quos con pos am, quaspedi occu
“Currently almost 1.4 million EU citizens are living in Switzerland, while looking at the whole Union 15.3 million EU citizens lived in another member state in 2015. This is all the more remarkable as with its 8 million inhabitants the population of Switzerland is around 60 times smaller than that of the European Union.”
Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter at the Assembly of Delegates of the FDP on 25 June 2016, quoted in “Ostschweiz am Sonntag” on 6 June 2016
Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated on 24 June 2016 once again the importance of the EU as a ‘unique community of values. It is our guarantor of peace, prosperity and stability.’
Source: “Wiler Zeitung” of 6 June 2016
Considerably more realistic and materialistic was the Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel a few months ago: “Where the economic base is becoming fragile, so also the ideological superstructure cannot give support any longer. It was the promise of prosperity that made Europe attractive for everybody and that stimulated the deepening and widening of European integration again and again.”
Sigmar Gabriel: “Zerfällt Europa? Die Zukunft einer grossen Idee” (Will Europe fall apart? The future of a great idea) in: “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”
of 15 February 2016
(Translation Current Concerns)
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