Friday

27th Jan 2023

Switzerland re-imposes curbs on EU workers

Switzerland is imposing quotas on work permits for EU citizens despite objections from Brussels.

The federal government said on Wednesday (24 April) it will give just 2,180 five-year residency permits over the next 12 months to people from eight eastern European countries, such as Poland and Slovakia.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Popular campaigns by far-right parties have put pressure on the government to act (Photo: Lars Francke)

It is planning to give 53,700 permits to people from 17 remaining, wealthier EU counties. Bulgaria and Romania are covered by a separate migration regime until 2016.

Short-stay permits for up to one year will not be affected.

A government statement said it has the right to set limits under a "safeguard clause" in its 1999 EU agreement on free movement because it is seeing up to 80,000 extra arrivals each year.

It said some nice things about EU migrants.

It noted that the 1.2 million EU citizens who already live in the 8-million-strong country have "had a positive impact … in particular in terms of consumer spending and on the construction industry."

But amid pressure for action by far-right politicians, it added that the curbs are needed to "make immigration more acceptable to society."

It also hinted that some EU migrants are welfare cheats who gobble up "affordable housing" and who overburden Swiss infrastructure.

"It is … important to consistently combat abuses in the area of immigration law and social security," it said.

"It's a fact that there is unease among the population, and it's necessary to take this unease seriously," Swiss justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga told press.

For her part, EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton rebuked Bern, saying she "regrets" the move and underlining the "great benefits" of EU-Swiss work mobility.

She noted that the split in permit quotas between the EU8 and EU17 groups is illegal because the 1999 agreement does not allow it to differentiate between EU countries.

The Swiss decision is the second year in a row it has invoked the safeguard clause for the EU8.

The clause will expire once and for all in May 2014.

Swiss eyeing EU research money despite referendum

Switzerland is pushing to be 'de facto' accepted in multi-billion EU programmes on science, but the EU commission says it would be illegal after Switzerland's anti-migration referendum.

Opinion

Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Latest News

  1. Official: EU parliament's weak internal rule-making body leads to 'culture of impunity'
  2. Red tape border logjam for EU's 1.3m 'frontier workers'
  3. Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency
  4. Greek government in no-confidence vote over spying scandal
  5. The legal battle for justice against Kremlin's 'untouchables'
  6. UAE's fossil-fuelled high-tech mirage of a green future
  7. MEP harassment case sheds light on flimsy support for victims
  8. Big Agri's EU lobbying playbook on 'hunger' and a 'refugee crisis'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  2. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  3. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  4. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us