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Switzerland has moved a step closer to breaking free of the European Union (EU) after the government allowed proponents of a campaign to curb immigration to start canvassing public support for a referendum.
The country is not a member of the EU but currently has open borders with the bloc as a price for access to the Single Market. However, the populist Swiss Freedom Party (SVP) have been pushing for a referendum on the matter.
The SVP is now free to start collecting signatures for its “for a moderate immigration” initiative, and if they gain more than 100,000 signatures, a referendum will be held, 20 Minutes reports.
If the people then vote for the change, Switzerland’s Federal Council will have a year to negotiate the end of free movement with Brussels, changing or scrapping bilateral agreements with the bloc.
The EU is unlikely to compromise and Switzerland will be forced to cut many of its ties with the Single Market if it wants to respect the outcome of the referendum.
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