Sunday

2nd Oct 2022

Switzerland looks set to limit EU migrants

Faced with rising unemployment, the Swiss government is currently working on a dossier that would see limits imposed on the number of EU workers entering the landlocked alpine country.

Under bilateral accords signed with the EU, the Swiss government is entitled to limit the number of workers entering the country from the original EU15 member states, as well as from Cyprus and Malta, if unemployment rises above a certain threshold.

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

  • Swiss exports have been hit badly by the downturn (Photo: Aldo Mariano)

Access to the country's job market was never extended to the EU member states in central and eastern Europe that joined in 2004.

On Friday (8 May), new employment figures published by the state secretariat for economic affairs showed unemployment in April reached a new three-year high of 3.5 percent, adding to the prospects of a temporary limit on EU workers.

"Backed by the latest job market and migration statistics, the government will soon make a decision on the possible activation of the protection clause," justice department spokesman Philippe Piatti told Swiss media over the weekend.

Currently there are no restrictions on the number of EU workers that can take up job positions in Switzerland.

Under the bilateral accords however, the government is entitled to temporarily limit the number of EU workers taking up posts if the country's unemployment increases by more than 10 percent in a year compared to the average rate in the previous three years.

Swiss media report that the government is set to discuss a possible initiation of the mechanism on Wednesday.

If the clause is activated, immigration from the EU15, plus Cyprus and Malta, will be limited to the average migration rate of the previous year plus five per cent for a maximum of two years.

Citizens from Germany and Portugal currently make up the largest EU immigrant groups in Switzerland, whose export-driven economy has been hit hard by the global drop in demand.

Swiss standards

Last Friday's figures show that the number of jobless workers in Switzerland rose by 35.5 percent in April compared to the same month a year ago, pushing the unemployment rate to 3.5 percent.

While the Swiss are alarmed by the new unemployment rates, many EU countries can only dream of such figures.

The European commission last week released a new economic forecast predicting that the 27 member states would see unemployment average 9.4 per cent in 2009, rising to 10.9 per cent in 2010.

The data are worse for the 16 countries using the euro. Spain has been particularly badly hit by the crisis, and set to be burdened with an average unemployment figure this year of 17.3 percent.

EU and member state officials met in Prague last week at a specially convened employment summit in an attempt to come up with solutions to the growing problem.

Feature

Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy

EUobserver spoke with several business figures and all confirmed they voted for Georgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy because it promised stability, less bureaucracy and tax cuts. Matteo Salvini's anti-EU rhetoric scared them, while they trust Meloni has "more common sense".

Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

In Warsaw and Budapest, the prime ministers were quick to congratulate the new Italian leader, who — they hope — will back them in their battles with the EU over civil rights, rule of law and democratic backsliding.

EU seeks crisis powers to take control over supply chains

The Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI) introduces a staged, step-by-step, approach — providing emergency powers to the EU Commission to tackle any potential threat which could trigger disruptions or shortages of key products within the EU.

Testimony from son rocks trial of ex-Czech PM Babiš

In a fraud trial relating to €2m in EU subsidies, Andrej Babiš son testified his signature on share-transfer agreements was forged. He claims his father transferred the shares to him without his knowledge, making him a front man for scheme.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  2. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  3. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  4. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  5. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  6. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  7. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  8. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us