Switzerland won’t sign deal on free labour access. What should Croatia do?

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Snježana Vasiljević, Assistant Professor, Chair of European Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb

I can say in short that legal consequences and the influence of the recent referendum held in Switzerland are not quite clear. It takes time for in depth legal analysis of numerous legal norms and agreements between Switzerland and the EU in order to provide the public with the correct opinion. On June 21 1999, the European Union and Switzerland signed seven bilateral agreements including the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, which came into force on 1 June 2002. As a result of EU eastern enlargement on 1 May 2004, the agreement was supplemented by an additional protocol containing provisions for the gradual introduction (transitional period) of the free movement of persons as well in the ten new EU member states. The same procedure could apply to Croatian workers by signing the new Protocol to the Agreement on Free Movement of Workers. According to the existing transitional agreements on restriction of free movement of workers, the restriction  cannot be extended beyond an absolute maximum of seven years after the Croatian accession to the EU. The procedure of drafting the new protocol was initiated before the Swiss referendum but at this moment we cannot predict what will happen in the political arena at the EU level.  However, there is a still enough time for the political reactions and agreement on this issue because according to the Swiss laws, there is a three years period to implement the results of the referendum. This issue should be discussed at the level of EU and Croatia has right to declare its own opinion through participation in the EU decision making process.

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