chapter  8
The (contentious) human face of Europeanization: Free movement and immigration
Pages 19

The opening of Swiss borders to the free movement of persons from the European Union (EU) has often been and, with EU enlargement, is once again probably the most contentious issue in Switzerland’s relations with the Union. Three times this question has been decisive for the fate of Switzerland’s path to closer relations with the Union: in the rejection of the Treaty on the European Economic Area in 1992, in the cumbersome negotiation of the first bilateral treaties of 1999, and, most recently, in the popular referendum against the enlargement of freedom of movement to the new EU member states. The explosiveness of the issue in the direct democratic arena stems from an unfortunate amalgam of two strong popular sentiments: euroscepticism and xenophobia. This mix has been responsible not only for unwieldy and diplomatically sometimes delicate negotiations with its European partners, as described both by Dupont and Sciarini and by Afonso and Maggetti later in this volume, but also for a set of domestic, socalled companion, measures designed to prevent perceived strains on the Swiss labour market.