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Switzerland Warns It May Have to Leave Schengen Zone Due to Frontex

Karin Keeler-Sutter, Swiss Federal Chancellor in charge of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Police (FDJP) has warned EU interior ministers that her country may have to leave the Schengen area if Swiss residents vote against strengthening Frontex in a referendum. Which will be held mid-May this year.

“If there is a rejection of Frontex, it is clear that we will have to leave the Schengen-Dublin area,” council member Keeler-Sutter at the meeting of interior ministers held in Lille, France last week told TheSchengen.com.

As a member state, Switzerland has contributed to the financing of Frontex since 2009, the agency responsible for protecting the external borders of the Schengen area. While the agency’s budget for 2020 was 364 million euros, the European Union doubled its 2022 budget to 754 million euros.

As a result, Switzerland’s contribution to the Agency’s budget is also expected to increase from 24 million Swiss francs in 2021 to 61 million Swiss francs in 2027, based on an agreement between the Swiss government and the European Union in this regard.

However, some Swiss politicians and citizens dissatisfied with Frontex’s work collected 62,000 signatures, 12,000 more than those required to organize a referendum to reject Switzerland’s increased contribution to the Frontex budget.

“The refusal to strengthen Frontex will indeed lead to the almost inevitable withdrawal of Switzerland from the agency,” the chancellor told those present.

If the residents of Switzerland decide not to promote Frontex, Switzerland and the rest of the Schengen countries have a period of 90 days available to find a common solution. If no solution is found, Switzerland will have to leave after three months.

When meeting in Lille, Keeler Sutter told RTS that attendees were somewhat taken aback by her remarks.

“I had the impression that they were rather surprised by this announcement because they weren’t aware at all,” she said.

Switzerland signed the agreement to become part of the Schengen area on October 26, 2004, and began implementing it on December 12, 2008. The country is not part of the European Union although it maintains close relations with the bloc and has aligned itself with many EU countries. Laws, particularly those relating to freedom of movement, align with the laws of the European Union.

This is not the first time that Swiss authorities have feared that the referendum result could threaten Schengen membership in the country.

In May 2020, another referendum was held in the country, called by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, with the aim of ending the free movement of EU citizens in Switzerland. The referendum has been dubbed the “Brexit moment,” yet the Swiss people voted against it.

>> The French president calls on the European Union to redraw the external borders

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Source: schengenvisainfo.com

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