I refer to the article sent in to TRE entitled S’pore will end up a loser if immigration is restricted where the author, Concerned Singaporean, pointed out that although the Swiss had voted for the limiting of EU immigration into Switzerland, the victory was a very narrow victory and came with a warning by the President of the EU, Jose Manual Barroso about possible consequences.
I want to soundly refute this very shallow attempt at purposefully misconstruing the Swiss situation to support the cause for the free flow of labor for Singapore.
Switzerland, was never part of the EU because it never wanted to be part of the EU. It rejected EU membership in a 1992 referendum. In 1994, Switzerland and the EU started negotiations about a special relationship and these negotiations resulted in the signing of 10 treaties negotiated in 2 phases.
1. Free movement of people
2. Air traffic
3. Road traffic
5. Technical trade barriers
6. Public procurement
8. Security and asylum/Schengen membership
9. Cooperation in fraud pursuits
10. Final stipulations in open questions about agriculture, environment, media, education, care of the elderly, statistics and services.
You can see this here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland%E2%80%93European_Union_relations
The Bilateral I agreements are mutually dependent and are linked to another by the requirement that they are to come into force at the same time and that they are to cease to apply at the same time.
Now as it is a BILATERAL agreement, the recent vote of the people against EU immigration into Switzerland requires the EU to reconsider the entire Bilateral I agreements! That is why Jose Manual Barroso said “Switzerland stands to lose more than the EU from a vote to restrict immigration because it cannot enjoy all the benefits of the world’s biggest market without “RECIPROCAL ACCESS”.
Bear in mind that the Swiss are fully cognizant of this issue and in spite of the fact that they will lose the access granted by all 7 of the Bilateral I agreements, THEY STILL DECIDED THAT THIS WAS A LESSER EVIL THAN FREE MOVEMENT INTO SWITZERLAND!
In 1994, when the Swiss signed the Bilateral I treaties, they must have thought that freedom of movement would allow Swiss to compete in other countries. Although Switzerland has the highest per capita in Europe outside Luxembourg, it is surrounded by countries with larger economies and populations. Furthermore, these economies have per capita GDP’s that are not so different from that of the Swiss. Singapore is in a far far different situation. Singapore is surrounded by countries with FAR LARGER populations and much lower per capita GDP’s. This means that if there is freedom of movement into Singapore, the economic pressures pushing people into Singapore would be far greater than those pushing people from the EU into Switzerland and correspondingly, the opportunities of Singaporeans getting employment outside Singapore, far less.
Now let me put a question to everyone. Do skilled professionals today, have problems getting a work permit in Singapore? Absolutely not! With or without free movement of labor in the ASEAN EU, Singapore still has its normal employment Visa schemes. We are where we are today WITHOUT any free movement of labor arrangement. So if and when we have this free movement of labor in the ASEAN EU, will the employment situation for locals be better or worse? You decide!