Free movement: the face to face debate - Blocher & Pelli

THE DEBATE

The former federal councillor and the former president of the national FDP return during an evening held at USI on the forthcoming initiative to be voted for on the 27th of September

Free movement: the face to face debate - Blocher & Pelli
© CdT / Chiara Zocchetti

Free movement: the face to face debate - Blocher & Pelli

© CdT / Chiara Zocchetti

They shared twenty years of federal political life together under the dome of the Palazzo. The former as a deputy, federal councillor and leader of the largest Swiss party. The second, first elected to the National team in 1995 and president of the PLR ​​for seven years (from 2005 to 2012).

In many areas they found themselves in the same positions, but that of relations with the EU has always been a subject of strong divergences. Christoph Blocher had successfully led the battle against the European Economic Area in 1992 and then took a critical line on relations with Brussels, the subject of two popular initiatives in the last six years. Fulvio Pelli, who had chaired the Ticino section of Numes, the New European Movement Switzerland, has always been a supporter of the bilateral path. Last night the two went back to debate at USI, face to face on the initiative against the free movement of people which will be voted on September 27, organised by the Club dei mille of the cantonal PLR and moderated by the head of the Information Department of CSR Reto Ceschi.

Free movement: the face to face debate between Blocher and Pelli

With the vote of 9 February, Blocher shared that the public and cantons had said no to free movement. ‘Since 2014 we have been asking for immigration to be regulated in our country. Now we ask to be able to do it’. According to Pelli, voting is not only on immigration, because the initiative also endangers the freedom of movement of the Swiss, especially young people, in the rest of Europe. ‘Bureaucracy is favoured instead of freedom. For a liberal there is no choice. We would end up not being able to enter into free movement agreements even with Liechtenstein’.

One of the points of contrast is the immigration regulation regime in case of approval. According to Pelli, quotas are a wrong system and ‘wishful thinking’. They created integration problems (because at a certain point foreigners no longer came from neighbouring states but from more distant regions) without leading to a real limitation of immigration, which instead ‘will always and only be controlled by the needs of the economy’. For Blocher, however, the system has proven to work well for thirty years. In the canton of Zurich, everything was managed by a single official, so there was no dreaded bureaucracy. Today, however, the flow of people is free, the rules that on paper should limit it (expulsion of those who do not work) do not work and unemployment is created. Freedom has favoured entrepreneurs ‘but we cannot take a position that hurts the country. We need a solution that allows the Swiss to get better’.

Should the bilateral fall what happens?

The former federal councillor said he was confident that the EU will return to the negotiating table, because almost all the current agreements are in his favour (Switzerland is doing well overall’ objected Pelli). In any case, free movement has done enormous damage, not compensated by the other agreements. In any case, it will not be like Brexit, also because the free trade agreement of 1972 will still remain in force. If, on the other hand, a no comes out of the polls, Brussels ‘will celebrate’ because the way will be paved for the institutional agreement. According to Pelli, however, it is wrong to preach catastrophes.

On September 27, we vote on a specific object and not on a forecast. And then the people will always have the last word. The issue of cross-border commuters is also on the table. According to the Ticino politician it is a problem of border relations, due to the Italian situation. ‘The situation will not change with a yes or a no’ In the previous regime, permits were eventually given the same. Rather, an increased training effort is needed on the Swiss side in sectors where there is a need for labour.

Cross Border workers, Blocher noted, can now return home once a week. There are people who work in Switzerland and return to London on the weekend. ‘This is to the detriment of Swiss workers’ As for the Ticino situation, he concluded, one cannot speak of an economic nature when one is limited to transferring activities under Italian conditions. In the previous regime, permits were eventually given the same. Rather, an increased training effort is needed on the Swiss side in sectors where there is a need for labour.

At the end of the meeting, the two protagonists also granted us a double interview in which they concluded and condensed their positions in a couple of minutes.

©CdT.ch - Riproduzione riservata

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