SWITZERLAND: Potential Access to EU Single Market

Following positive talks this week between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann, it is believed that a compromise is close to being reached which would allow Switzerland access to the EU single market whilst still employing measures to reduce immigration.

Although free movement of people is a vital element of membership for all EU countries, an anti-immigration referendum in 2014 saw the Swiss vote in favour of immigration quotas to protect their domestic job market. Such policy has threatened to jeopardise Switzerland”s access to the common market, with Brussels previously refusing to budge from their stance in order to accommodate Switzerland if they attempt to restrict freedom of movement.

However, Mr. Juncker told reporters after the meeting that the Swiss proposal of giving hiring preference to local people was “possible without a doubt” as long as this was agreed mutually with the EU.

“After this talk, I am more optimistic than I was in recent weeks. Everything is going in the right direction,” Juncker added.

Further talks are scheduled next month; however, any such deal is likely to be followed closely by the United Kingdom following the “Brexit” vote in June. It is thought that any compromise reached with Switzerland regarding access to the single market will increase demands from the UK Government as they continue to negotiate Britain”s exit from the EU.  

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