GEB3373: Legal and Political Environment Change in… Switzerland?

If you’ve been studying International Business (GEB3373) lately, you know about the multitude of ways that the legal and political environment in a country can affect the business climate. But one country that probably doesn’t come to mind when considering drastic legal changes is Switzerland.

That’s all changed now, as a result of a recent vote on immigration. Switzerland, although clearly part of Europe, doesn’t belong to the European Union. However, it maintains various agreements with the EU on a variety of economic and political matters. In recent years, Switzerland’s stability and economic opportunity have made the nation a major destination for immigrants, both from inside and outside the EU.

In a vote this weekend, however, Swiss voters elected to reinstate sharp quota restrictions on immigration, which could have a major impact on many businesses in the country. The BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26108597) reports that the margin was narrow (50.3%), but the effects could be far-reaching. In addition to its effects on the Swiss labor market, the vote has strained diplomatic relations. In essence, a previous agreement allowing free movement between EU countries and Switzerland is now nullified. It’s no surprise that EU nations – not to mention Swiss business leaders – don’t like that very much.

In the big picture, the result could be a heavy blow to Swiss business in the European market. So even though Switzerland might appear to be the most stable of countries, even this neutral, democratic nation isn’t immune to the shocks of political transition. That’s something for all converged communicators with an interest in global business to keep in mind.

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