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21 September 2015

Since the adoption of the Mass Immigration Initiative (MII), the Federal Council has endeavoured to achieve a literal implementation without jeopardizing the bilateral agreements with the EU - a difficult acrobatic exercise. If they are unsuccessful the initiative 'Break the Deadlock' (BTD) will delete the immigration quotas imposed under the MII from the Federal Con-stitution. It is unclear when the respective vote would take place.

The Federal Council has until 9 February 2017 to renegotiate the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons with the EU and to introduce the immigration quotas provided for by the MII. However, the EU shows little willingness to renegotiate for this reason. If no consensus is reached, the Federal Council will be obliged to terminate the bilateral agreements.

It is for this scenario that BTD wants to have a Plan B ready: The people should be able to decide about the retention of the bilateral agreements. The initiative was started in mid-August with 100,000 signatures; it is to be filed in October. But the timing could prove to be tight as the Federal Council and Parliament have a total of 2.5 years in order to make a voting recommendation to the public. However, the deadline for implementation of the MII already expires in just 1.5 years. Under certain circumstances, the initiative will only come to the vote, after the implementation of the MEI is in force. If a solution can be found that does not jeopardize the bilateral agreements then the BTD Committee will withdraw their initiative.

However, according to one of the BTD-founders, the timing is not so crucial; a vote after the implementation of the MII could even be beneficial. "Then the Swiss population will see the mess caused by the [MII]."

Authors: Urs Haegi, Ann Sofie Benz

Photo: Vaikoovery/Wikimedia Commons

Topics: ImmigrationMII

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