The EU won’t play ball on freedom of movement – just ask the Swiss

Faced with losing its single market access, Switzerland has backed down on immigration quotas

EU President Martin Schulz is meeting with Theresa May today

Two years after its people voted against mass immigration in a nationwide referendum, Switzerland has all but caved in the face of EU intransigence on freedom of movement.

While parliamentarians yesterday approved legislation that would allow for local preference in hiring, it’s a far smaller concession than those who voted for immigration quotas envisioned.

However, throughout negotiations the EU made it clear that any restrictions of freedom of movement would cost Switzerland its enhanced access to the European single market, and the Swiss gave in.

‘We cannot set a precedent on free movement, especially not now, given the UK situation,’ an EU diplomat told the Guardian. ‘We can’t have caps or quotas or emergency brakes and single market access. The Swiss have taken a decision and it has certain consequences. They will have to find their own way out.’

The message to the UK couldn’t be clearer: the EU is absolutely unwilling to compromise on freedom of movement, no matter how many Leave campaigners or Tory ministers suggest otherwise. 

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, reiterated this message ahead of his meeting with Theresa May this afternoon. While he committed to a deal that is ‘good for all sides’ he also insisted that ‘the four freedoms of the single market — goods, capital, services and persons —are equally important.’

Ahead of the referendum, Leave campaigners lied to voters about the inevitability of this negotiating stance. Now politicians from both left and right are continuing the deceit — leading voters to believe that if Britain takes a tough enough negotiating stance that the EU will back down.

The EU is not for turning — the Swiss learned that the hard way, now Britain must change tack.

7 Responses to “The EU won’t play ball on freedom of movement – just ask the Swiss”

  1. Labour shouldn't fall into the Leave campaign's trap on immigration | Left Foot Forward

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  2. wg

    And this is an example of EU democracy? The bullying of its neighbours.

    Like all parting couples when a relationship breaks down, compromises have to be reached – LFF advocating this childish level of negotiating is absolutely disgusting.

    It sounds as if you don’t really want an amicable parting.

  3. CR

    Controlling immigration and the return of sovereignty to Parliament were at the core of the Brexit referendum win. There is no going back on that.

  4. Martin Clarke

    Fine, hard brexit it is then. The voters were given a choice between single market and control of immigration. They chose control of immigration.

  5. Alex from Carlisle

    Another victory for the bloc! Dissent, any struggles for individuality, will be punished!

  6. Michaelantony

    The trouble is the embittered Remain campaigners are egging on the EU to take as tough a stance as possible with the UK just to prove they were right. Look at the gloating tone of this article: positively overjoyed that the Swiss have not obtained the combination of single market access and limits on immigration they wanted. When half the politicians and journalists in the UK are actively seeking a breakdown in Brexit negotiations and the ruin of their country just to prove they were right, the outlook for a good result is dim.

  7. Someone tell Theresa May that silence is not a Brexit strategy | Left Foot Forward

    […] See also: The EU won’t play ball on freedom of movement – just ask the Swiss […]

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