The voters of Switzerland just passed a reform to limit the immigration of citizens of the European Union into the country. This nullifies a freedom of movement agreement between Switzerland and the EU. While Switzerland is not a member of the EU, they have adopted many of the union’s policy. Furthermore, the two have significant bilateral trade and over half of Swiss’ exports go to the EU. The EU has yet to decide on a response to the termination of this agreement. There is the distinct possibility that this could lead to some level of Swiss exclusion from the markets of the European Union as this is only one piece of many bilateral agreements that took years to develop between Switzerland and the EU. If exclusion occurs, it would harm the Swiss’ Economy.
The right wing Swiss People’s Party has made a push to reverse the free movement agreement and the Swiss people, in disregard to the currently strong economy and low unemployment, have backed the move. There is widespread public opinion that immigration is harmful to the Swiss people. This move against immigration is dangerous to Switzerland in the immediate future, due to EU exclusion, and if popular opinion remains against immigration, the long-term strength of the country may be in jeopardy, due to an aging population.
The Swiss have had a birthrate lower than is necessary to maintain the population for nearly 40 years, currently has a large population bubble from 30 to 60 years of age, and less and less young people in each generation. Without immigrants to compensate for the lack of youth, the Swiss will face an elderly population that is increasing more rapidly than the working age citizens that will have to support them.
CIA. “Switzerland.” Wold Factbook. CIA, n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2014. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sz.html>.
“Swiss Immigration: 50.3% Back Quotas, Final Results Show.” BBC News. BBC, 02 Feb. 2014. Web. 08 Feb. 2014. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26108597>.
World Bank. “Switzerland.” Data. World Bank, n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2014. <http://data.worldbank.org/country/switzerland>.