The people of Switzerland have voted to restrict immigration. In a referendum, they narrowly opted to reintroduce quotas under which jobs will go to Swiss passport-holders before anyone else. Is this a sign of growing xenophobia, or hostility to the EU? Have the Swiss merely stated publicly what many other Europeans think? Is it a victory for direct democracy, or proof of its limitations?
The Swiss government and the country's largest business organisations campaigned against the move. They are mostly opposed to the restrictions, which in effect invalidate the agreement on freedom of movement between the European Union and Switzerland.
Their argument: Swiss industry will suffer as a result, because 60 percent of the country's foreign trade is with the EU. Brussels has already announced that it will review relations with Bern in the wake of the referendum.
To what extent does Switzerland's move on immigration threaten to undermine the ties between the European Union and the Alpine nation? Is it possible for a country to have privileged access to the single market without allowing the freedom of movement which is a cornerstone of that structure?
The measure was passed by a slim margin, but is it nevertheless a natural extension of other recent moves, such as the decision to allow foreign criminals to be expelled from the country, or to ban the construction of minarets? Does it strengthen the hand of right-wing populists elsewhere, like Le Pen and Geert Wilders? Is the fear of a wave of poor immigrants justified? Or is this result rather a reaction against the march of globalisation?
Tell us what you think: Swiss Vote - Alarm Bells in Europe
Stefano Casertano - he is an academic and a journalist, living in Berlin. He teaches international politics at Potsdam University, and is a Senior Fellow at the Brandenburg Institute for Society and Security. He is a columnist for the Italian business newspaper Linkiesta.it. In 2008 he completed his MBA at Columbia University, and later his Ph.D. Magna cum Laude at Potsdam University. He served as international affairs advisor for the Italian Ministry of Economic Development. He published four books about geopolitics, starting with a History of Cold War in 2009. In 2010, he has been nominated "Italian Young Leader" by the US-Italy council; and "Aspen Young Fellow" by the Aspen Institute.
Ulrich Schmid- he began his career at the Swiss news agency SDA, but has been a foreign correspondent at the Neue Zürcher Zeitung for many years. His postings have taken him to a wide range of countries, among them the Czech Republic, the former East Germany, Russia, the US, China, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Chechnya. He has been living and working in Berlin since 2008.
David Charter– he is the Berlin Correspondent of the British newspaper The Times. He has worked at the newspaper in various roles including Chief Political Correspondent from 2001-2006. After that he served as the newspapers´ EU-Correspondent in Brussels for five years. Last year , he published his book "Au Revoir Europe: What if Britain left the EU?".