71.5 per cent of Swiss voters have shown their support for the increase of the financial contribution of Switzerland to the European Union’s Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) in a referendum held in the country last Sunday, May 15.

The referendum was organized after over 62,000 signatures were collected by Swiss parties and NGOs, which is more than is needed for the Swiss authorities to organize a referendum, in a bid to prevent the increase of Switzerland’s contribution to Frontex from CHF24 million in 2021 to CHF61 million in 2027.

According to the parties and NGOs, Switzerland should not increase the financial contribution to Frontex as the agency has frequently been accused of abusing the human rights of migrants reaching the external borders of the EU.

The referendum’s results have been applauded by many, including the EU Vice-President and Commissioner for Promoting our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas, who, amongst others, highlighted the importance of Schengen, calling it a “crown jewel.”

“The Swiss vote today reaffirms the importance the Swiss place on both the role of Frontex and the benefits of free movement and border management. Schengen remains our crown jewel, it has come out of the pandemic more resilient and is helping us welcome people from Ukraine,” Commissioner Schinas tweeted immediately after the referendum’s results were out.

The Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer also welcomed the referendum’s outcome, insisting that the authorities in Switzerland would commit to making sure that Frontex staff would respect basic human rights.

“It’s obvious that improvements are necessary, and more transparency in particular,” he said during a press conference following the reveal of the referendum results.

He also pointed out that the results were good news for the Swiss tourism sector, as the ‘no’ result would have endangered the country’s participation in the Schengen Area, which would cost Switzerland the loss of millions of tourists annually.

Categories: immigration

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