A majority of lawmakers in the lower house of the Swiss parliament on Tuesday voted in favour of expanding the freedom of movement protocol with the European Union to include Croatia, Swiss media said.
The conservative Swiss People's Party voted against, saying that the ratification of the protocol would be against the wish of the Swiss people as expressed at a referendum in February 2014 when a majority voted in favour of restricting immigration.
Switzerland was required to sign the protocol after Croatia joined the EU in mid-2013, but refused to do so in the 2014 referendum.
The European Commission threatened Switzerland that it would be denied access to some of the EU financing schemes unless it adopted the protocol. Since 2014, the Swiss have been refused participation in the Horizon 2020 research programme and the Erasmus+ student mobility programme.
The Swiss government said in March it had agreed with the Commission to expand the protocol to include Croatia, noting that the agreement required ratification by both chambers of the Swiss parliament.
Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but has concluded about 20 major bilateral agreements with the Union, including on free movement of people.