Saturday, 14 June 2014

Inconvenient referendum - Swiss participation in EU programmes suspended

The EU don´t like referendums. They might bring unwanted results, which can slow or threaten the integration process. In February a Swiss referendum did just that, capping the migration from EU countries. The Commission said quotas would contradict a EU-Swiss agreement on freedom of movement, an then suspended Switzerlands participation in two EU programmes - Horizon 2020 and Erasmus - which are linked to the agreement.

The suspension was no surprise. EU could not accept such disobedience. It would undermine one of the pillars of the internal market and might also inspire eurosceptics within member countries. The problems of free migration between countries with different economies are not only experienced in Switzerland.

Now EUobserver can tell that the Swiss are eyeing research money despite the referendum.One argument is that cutting funding for research and education programmes is hitting the wrong people. Students and academics were not in favour of capping freedom of movement.Switzerland has also been paying into crossborder projects like Iter, and it might stop when cut out of Horizon 2020.

Just a few days ago, in Harpsund, PM Cameron mentioned the necessity of reforming the migration rules. It will be interesting to follow the development in EU-Swiss relations. 

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