Portugal “concerned” by Swiss immigration crackdown

The future of thousands of Portuguese immigrants in Switzerland hangs in the balance after the crackdown on immigration that will follow the results of a landmark referendum.
The vote taken at the weekend saw Switzerland divided in two over the issue of foreign workers. By a scant majority, the “antis” won it, and now employers will have to give preference to Swiss nationals and there will be annual quotas for the number of foreigners allowed in.
It’s a “worry” for Portugal, Foreign Minister Rui Machete agreed this week, as Switzerland is the chosen country of hundreds of thousands of Portuguese workers, and not all of them have their paperwork in order.
“For those who have their situations regularised, it is not a problem,” Machete told Lusa news agency. “But for those who don’t there is good reason to worry, as there is for us (in the government).”
The crucial aspect of last week’s referendum, writes Swiss journalist Diccon Bewes in the Telegraph, is not so much the immigration quotas – as the Swiss government has good time to come up with them – but the effect they will have on the free movement of people within Europe.
It is one of the EU’s fundamental principles, and one Switzerland signed up for in 2000. Thus last weekend’s vote will require a “revision of relations between the EU and Switzerland”, explains Machete, trotting out a famous Portuguese proverb which in English translates into “You can’t have your cake and eat it”.
Acknowledging that it was not the Swiss government that pushed for last weekend’s result, Machete said nonetheless that “the Helvetic federation cannot continue to benefit from the privileges it enjoys in some areas, if it introduces limits” in others.
The controversial vote was instigated by the country’s Right Wing People’s Party and supported in the main by the country’s German-speaking population, writes Diccon Bewes – while the French-speakers were resounding in their opposition.