Swiss parliament votes to expand freedom of movement protocol to include Croatia

A majority of lawmakers in the lower house of the Swiss parliament on Tuesday voted in favour of expanding the freedom of movement protocol with the European Union to include Croatia, Swiss media said.

The conservative Swiss People's Party voted against, saying that the ratification of the protocol would be against the wish of the Swiss people as expressed at a referendum in February 2014 when a majority voted in favour of restricting immigration.

Switzerland was required to sign the protocol after Croatia joined the EU in mid-2013, but refused to do so in the 2014 referendum.

The European Commission threatened Switzerland that it would be denied access to some of the EU financing schemes unless it adopted the protocol. Since 2014, the Swiss have been refused participation in the Horizon 2020 research programme and the Erasmus+ student mobility programme.

The Swiss government said in March it had agreed with the Commission to expand the protocol to include Croatia, noting that the agreement required ratification by both chambers of the Swiss parliament.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but has concluded about 20 major bilateral agreements with the Union, including on free movement of people.

Last update: Tue, 12/07/2016 - 13:20

More from Europe

Italy police arrest seven linked to online global paedophile network

Seven paedophiles linked to a global online network that counted tens of thousands of affiliates have been arrested...

Turkey now top 10 destination for German arms amid refugee crisis

Turkey has jumped into the top 10 in the rankings of destinations for German arms exports as Ankara responds to...

EU proposes corporate tax reforms to cut red tape, tackle abuse

The European Commission unveiled proposals Tuesday aimed at streamlining corporate tax rules across EU member states...

EU Parliament lifts Le Pen immunity over alleged racial slur

The European Parliament on Tuesday lifted the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France's far-right...

Sweden lowers projection for number of asylum seekers in 2016

Tighter border checks introduced by the European Union and individual European states were Tuesday cited as the main...