The Swiss voted in a referendum on Sunday to curb immigration from the EU. Granted it was a close vote, with 50.3% voting for this move, it is however an Anti-EU stance by this quaint country of chocolate and snow-capped picturesque mountains. For the average non-EU traveller – it means no real change – perhaps a more arduous visa application process. The impact of this vote though is a lot more hard-hitting for future employment trends and foreign investment flows.
Brussels has already warned of a need to review the Swiss decision in light of free movement contract with the EU; Multi National Companies commented on the likely impact of their own operations when deciding on whether to base their head-offices in the Swiss capital; but the most impact will be felt by those sectors that need to employ immigrants because they cannot fill certain jobs with Swiss skills. Here I am talking about those type of jobs that remain the sole reserve of immigrants – menial labour jobs, nursing jobs in old-age homes, sales assistant jobs that are often filled by immigrants from the very Europe the Swiss are rejecting. The ‘cherry-picking’ by the Swiss has drawn criticism from pro-EU voices – highlighting that Switzerland cannot benefit from the trade agreements it has in place with the EU, while rejecting certain elements of those same agreements that make the trade possible.
I will be watching and following to see how this plays out.