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Swiss immigration quotas 'worrying' says Italian FM

'We'll discuss it in Council of the European Union'

10 February, 11:55
Swiss immigration quotas 'worrying' says Italian FM (ANSA) - Brussels, February 10 - A vote passed in Switzerland to impose quotas on newcomers to the country is "worrying," said Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino on Monday.

"We'll talk about it in the Council of the European Union," she added, referring to a meeting at noon in Brussels. On Sunday, Swiss citizens voted by a narrow margin to impose caps on immigrants, giving eurosceptic, anti-immigrant movements a boost across the continent and complicating its relations with the EU.

Some 50.4% of voters supported the referendum pumped by far-right populists. "This goes against the principle of free movement of people between the EU and Switzerland," the European Commission said, adding it would review the impact on overall relations between Switzerland and the EU.

The move sparked fear among Italy's 5,000 commuters who everyday cross the border with Switzerland to work. "The referendum penalizes us, but the EU finds it illegal, given that Switzerland has signed free-trade agreements with Europe," said Antonio Locatelli, head of Italy's VCO organization that looks after cross-border commuters' rights. Switzerland, which is not an EU member, is closely integrated with the EU and is a member of Europe's passport-free Schengen zone. The vote is expected to energize anti-EU parties ahead of European Parliament elections in May.

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