di Francesco Musolino
Brussels, February 26 - Swiss students will no longer be able to take part in the Erasmus university student-exchange program beginning in 2015, a European Commission spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday. A number of agreements between Berne and the EU, including in research and education, have been axed after Switzerland voted to impose an upper limit on immigrants to the country earlier this month. The country will now be excluded from the new programs Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+. The spokesman said that Swiss students would not be able to take part in the program starting from the next academic year. Students currently in the program, however, can complete this year. The vote in Switzerland to impose quotas on newcomers to the country stirred alarm in neighboring Italy in terms of free trade, cross-border labor, and upcoming European Parliament elections. Several hundred thousand EU nationals live and work in Switzerland, mainly from Italy, Germany, Portugal and France. In early February Swiss citizens voted by a narrow margin to impose caps on immigrants, including people from the European Union, giving eurosceptic and anti-immigrant movements a boost across the continent while complicating the country's relations with the EU. Some 50.4% of voters supported the referendum pumped by far-right populists, mostly in the German-speaking East. "This goes against the principle of free movement of people between the EU and Switzerland," the European Commission had said at the time, adding it would review the impact on overall relations between Switzerland and the EU.