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April 23, 2014

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Swiss anti-immigration vote stirs fears in Europe

Updated Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 | 7:16 a.m.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The choice by Swiss voters to impose new curbs on immigration has sent shockwaves throughout the 28-nation European Union.

EU leaders were warning Monday that the Swiss — who are not in the bloc — have violated the "sacred principle" of freedom of movement.

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn says "one of the achievements of the European Union is the free movement of people and that can't be watered down." He says if Switzerland doesn't honor that, it could lose its easy access to the world's biggest market.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told RTL radio the EU's 1999 agreement with Switzerland has a "guillotine clause" that means if one element is challenged "then everything falls apart."

The Swiss vote could also affect growing anti-foreigner movements in other countries.