DP3449 | The Political Economy of EU Enlargement: Lessons from Switzerland

Publication Date

20/07/2002

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Abstract

The issue of the free movement of persons occupies center stage in the negotiations on EU enlargement. Opinion polls and household surveys reveal that a majority of EU citizens are fearful of the consequences of the free movement of persons. Influenced by these surveys, the EU Commission and several studies have reviewed the pros and cons of alternative flexible transitional arrangement proposals ranging from the current bilateral guest-worker arrangements practiced by some EU members to the establishment of fixed quotas during a limited period of time. These suggestions are reminiscent of the Swiss experience with immigration. At the same time, under the system of direct democracy, the Swiss electorate has voted regularly since 1970 on the policies towards immigrants and on the shape of immigration policy. The Paper reviews the Swiss experience with immigration policy and draws on the unique direct-democracy setting to bypass the problem of ?hypothetical bias? plaguing the analysis of conventional survey data. Determinants of attitudes towards immigration are analysed using individual-level survey data for 2000.