Switzerland reneges on free-movement agreement with Croatia

Move could jeopardise access to EU programmes

A Swiss flag flies beside the Rhine at Basel in Switzerland. The Swiss government confirmed this weekend that an agreement to extend existing free movement laws to Croatia could not be signed because of the “new constitutional disposition” reflected in last week’s referendum vote. Photograph: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

A Swiss flag flies beside the Rhine at Basel in Switzerland. The Swiss government confirmed this weekend that an agreement to extend existing free movement laws to Croatia could not be signed because of the “new constitutional disposition” reflected in last week’s referendum vote. Photograph: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

 


Switzerland will not extend existing free movement laws to Croatia as planned on July 1st, a move that may jeopardise its access to the EU’s Erasmus student exchange and Horizon 2020 research programme in the short term.

The Swiss government confirmed this weekend that the planned agreement could not be signed because of the “new constitutional disposition” reflected in last week’s referendum vote.

However, a spokesman said the government was trying to find a “solution” that would meet its commitments in a way that did not take the vote into account.

Switzerland had been due to implement existing free movement laws to Croatia, which joined the European Union in January. Last week, EU officials warned that failure to do so could spark immediate changes to connected bilateral agreements which cover the Erasmus and Horizon 2020 programmes.

Switzerland’s foreign minister Didier Burkhalter is due to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin tomorrow.

Last week, the Swiss electorate voted to impose limits on migration, but the European Commission warned that Bern could not opt out of free movement rules without ramifications on trade agreements.