Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Swiss to vote on passport zone

Reuters offered this short summary on the upcoming vote in Switzerland:

ZURICH Swiss voters are expected to support joining the European Union's passport-free zone in a referendum on Sunday that will challenge Switzerland's reputation as an isolated fortress at the heart of the EU.
Membership of the "Schengen zone" would mean sharing border security and police information with surrounding EU countries, something supporters said would protect Switzerland, but critics said would undermine its sovereignty and centuries-old neutrality.
After France's rejection of the EU constitution, Swiss voters will give another glimpse of public feelings about the EU when they head to the polls for a regular referendum.
The government and industry favor Schengen and another treaty with the EU to coordinate asylum claims across Europe.
The EU countries that are part of Schengen pool information on wanted people, prompting fears that criminals listed by the zone's shared data bank might seek refuge in Switzerland.
"We can't allow the image of Switzerland to become that of a haven for rogues," said Damien Cottier, head of the Schengen support campaign at Economiesuisse.
But the nationalist Swiss People's Party, though part of the coalition government, has campaigned for a no vote, with a stress on Swiss independence that has resonated with some voters.


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