Merkel sees 'considerable problems' from Swiss vote

10th February 2014, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel foresees "considerable problems" after voters in Switzerland opted to impose limits on immigration from the European Union, her spokesman said Monday.

"The government takes note of the result of this referendum and respects it," Steffen Seibert told reporters when asked to respond to Sunday's vote that was pushed by Swiss right-wing populists.

"It is however also definitely the case that, in our view, this result raises considerable problems," he added.

Merkel's finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said shortly after the closely-fought Swiss result was announced that it would create "plenty of problems for Switzerland in a host of areas".

Germany is Switzerland's top trading partner and the biggest economy in the 28-nation EU, with whom non-EU member Switzerland has negotiated a raft of deals, including on economic ties.

Merkel has repeatedly emphasised that the free movement of people is a "prized asset" for Germany, Seibert said.

He added that it was now for Switzerland to approach Brussels to lay out how it planned to proceed in the wake of the vote, which scraped through with 50.3 percent support.

"Our interest must be to preserve the closest possible EU-Swiss relationship so that both sides, both partners, can stay as competitive, as globally competitive, as possible," Seibert said.

© 2014 AFP

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