Rightwing parties have launched separate bids to force nationwide votes on two key accords between Switzerland and the European Union.This content was published on December 17, 2004 - 16:24
They are opposed to the Schengen/Dublin treaty on closer security cooperation and an accord on extending an existing labour agreement to the ten new EU member states.
In a final reading on Friday, parliament approved both accords, which form part of a second set of nine bilateral treaties signed at a low-key ceremony in Luxembourg in October.
The Swiss People’s Party said on Friday that it would start collecting signatures at the end of the month to force a vote on the Schengen/Dublin accord.
Ueli Maurer, president of the Swiss People’s Party, attacked the treaty as an attempt to push through full EU membership via the backdoor.
Maurer also complained that the government had left opponents with less time than usual to collect signatures.
The far-right Swiss Democrats said they would be asking voters to reject government plans to open up the labour market to citizens of the ten new EU member states.
The isolationist Campaign for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland is supporting both referendums.
50,000 signatures are needed to force a referendum.
Opponents of the accords need to have collected the signatures by March 31 next year.
If they succeed, the Swiss people will vote on June 5, 2005, at the earliest.
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