Voters endorse labour accord with EU

euA key bilateral accord with the European Union on open labour markets has won a clear majority at the ballot box. Switzerland’s rightwing parties, which forced the nationwide vote, suffered a defeat on Sunday February 8, as nearly 60 per cent of voters backed the government and a broad alliance of parties, organisations and the business community.

Official results show 59.6 per cent of the electorate approving a proposal to continue a labour accord with 25 EU states and at the same time extend the agreement to the newest members Bulgaria and Romania.

Politicians, diplomats and business leaders were especially pleased with the result. The decisive margin sends a clear message to Brussels that Switzerland wants to foster relations with the EU, especially in the tough economic climate, said Georg Lutz, a political scientist at the Social Science Research Centre in Lausanne.

The vote was closely followed in Brussels because a no vote would have ended a series of economic accords laboriously hashed out between Switzerland and the EU and hampered relations already strained over Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws.

Even clearer than Sunday’s approval by Swiss voters of a key labour accord with the European Union was the positive mood in the Swiss press the day after.

But is chasing deals with the European Union such a good idea when the EU seems at times to have no direction of its own?

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