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
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 2317 GMT (0717 HKT)
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0309 GMT (1109 HKT)
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0125 GMT (0925 HKT)
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0056 GMT (0856 HKT)
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
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