Swiss voters narrowly approve immigration limits
February 10, 2014 -- Updated 0032 GMT (0832 HKT)
A man walks past posters from the right-wing populist Swiss People's Party ahead of Sunday's referendum
- Vote reflects "unease with regard to population growth," Swiss government says
- Swiss Federal Council warned limits would make it harder for businesses to find workers
- Foreigners make up a fourth of Switzerland's workforce and 20% of its population
- EU: It's against "free circulation of people between the European Union and Switzerland"
(CNN) -- Swiss voters narrowly approved a referendum to place new limits on foreigners living and working in Switzerland.
The country's Federal Council, which officially opposed the constitutional change, called the vote "a reflection of unease with regard to population growth in recent years."
The council had warned that passage would make it harder for Swiss businesses to find workers and would harm relations with the European Union.
Foreign workers from the EU have been allowed to freely commute from France and other countries into Switzerland to work, while there have been few restrictions on foreign nationals moving into the country to live.
Switzerland, which is not a part of the European Union, will not have to renegotiate agreements with the EU, the Federal Council said.
The European Commission issued a statement Sunday expressing "regrets" about the passage of the immigration quotas. "That goes against the principle of free circulation of people between the European Union and Switzerland," it said. "The European Union will examine the implications of this initiative with all relations between the European Union and Switzerland."
Foreigners make up about a fourth of Switzerland's workforce and 20% of its population. The immigrant community is dominated by Albanians, Bosnians and Turks, though most were denied a vote in Sunday's referendum because of the difficulty of gaining Swiss citizenship.
"The new constitutional provisions require that residence permits for foreign nationals be restricted using quantitative limits and quotas," the Swiss government statement said. "These limits and quotas will apply to all permits covered by legislation on foreign nationals, including cross-border commuters and asylum seekers, and must be geared towards Switzerland's overall economic interests. Businesses must give Swiss nationals priority when hiring staff."
Before the vote, the Federal Council issued a statement saying the foreign workers "make a significant contribution to Switzerland's prosperity. The Swiss economy has relied on foreign workers for decades. Manufacturing, construction, health care, academia and research, gastronomy and agriculture are dependent on workers from abroad."
Part of complete coverage on
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0908 GMT (1708 HKT)
Is the rapid rise of religion in China a threat to the Communist Party's rule?
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0513 GMT (1313 HKT)
Unlike most twenty somethings starting out in New York City, Zhang Yuzhu is not scrimping to make rent.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1940 GMT (0340 HKT)
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0904 GMT (1704 HKT)
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1234 GMT (2034 HKT)
The sights couldn't be sadder: Animals killed or suffering through war in Gaza.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
They are the faces of a community on the run. Photographer Warzer Jaff documents the plight of the Yazidis.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
A cameraman films a massive New York City subway rat charging at him and attacking him. WPIX reports.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
Today's five most popular stories