Switzerland has ratified the protocol extending the free movement of persons to Croatia. On 17 June this year, the Federal Assembly authorised the Federal Council to ratify Protocol III extending the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) to Croatia, subject to a specific condition. After Parliament passed the act implementing Article 121a of the Federal Constitution, the Federal Council concluded that this condition had been fulfilled. At its meeting on 16 December 2016, it therefore authorised the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), in cooperation with the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), to confirm the ratification of Protocol III to the EU. This also means the precondition has been met for Switzerland to participate fully in the Horizon 2020 research programme.
Parliament approved the Croatia protocol on 17 June 2016. It authorised the Federal Council to ratify the protocol on condition that „there is an arrangement with the EU for managing immigration which is compatible with Swiss law”. The Federal Assembly today passed the act implementing Article 121a of the Federal Constitution. Parliament favours a solution that can be implemented in accordance with the AFMP, meaning that Switzerland’s bilateral agreements with the EU will continue to apply. The Federal Council discussed the outcome of the parliamentary debate today and came to the conclusion that the condition imposed by Parliament had been fulfilled.
On Friday, therefore, the Federal Council instructed the FDFA, in cooperation with the FDJP, to confirm to the EU, as the other party to the agreement, that the ratification process has been completed. The EU already informed Switzerland of its completion of the ratification process on 9 November 2016. Protocol III will therefore come into force on 1 January 2017. The State Secretariat for Migration will inform the relevant authorities in the cantons about the applicable provisions in due course.
Full participation in Horizon 2020
The ratification of Protocol III is key to the Federal Council’s plans to consolidate and further develop the bilateral approach. It will also mean that from 1 January 2017 Switzerland can participate fully in the Horizon 2020 research programme as a fully associated member. This is vitally important for the quality of the research conducted in Switzerland, for the country’s reputation as a research centre and for its competitiveness. Swiss researchers will therefore be able to participate fully in the European research projects funded by the programme. The international partnerships entered into by Swiss higher education institutions are just as important as the financial aspects.