On 30th of last month there was a ‘Major’ statement in which the great man stated that David Cameron had a good chance of renegotiating the EU’s fundamental immigration rules after the rise of populist movements across Europe. He continued by stating that people might be surprised about what Cameron manages to achieve in terms of a new settlement with Brussels.
According to Swissinfo Switzerland plans to impose fewer limits on workers from the European Union than on those from other countries in a proposal for a draft law on immigration curbs. In a statement on Friday the Swiss government said: Admission for nationals of EU and EFTA states should be less restrictively regulated than for persons from third countries, This brought a swift rebuttal from the Commission, whose spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, said: Quantitative limits and national preference are contrary to our treaties. Negotiating them is not an option for the Commission.
It would seem therefore that what Major called the EU’s fundamental immigration rules have taken on the appearance of a rather thick brick wall, one having ‘concrete’ foundations; and against which Cameron seems intent on banging his head. Of course this raises the question of which is the thicker: the brick wall or Cameron’s head.
Meanwhile, the Swiss government’s plan was criticised by the recent referendums chief backer, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), who accused the government of deliberately provoking the EU with a hard line approach in the hope that its rejection might pave the way for a new vote. Under no circumstances will the People’s Party accept that the new law is thwarted in such a manner, said the party. The SVP, which is now the largest party in the Swiss parliament, may well state that they will not accept the result of the referendum being thwarted, but at the end of the day it is the people that will decide such.
This entire ‘battle of wills’ twixt the Swiss and the EU is promising to boil over into a most intriguing situation – and it is one that we need to keep an eye on in the future.