Tuesday

26th May 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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.

Feature

Children? Only if state permits it, says Romanian mayor

The mayor of the Romanian city of Targu Mures has said that the state should screen would-be parents for proof of a stable workplace, financial resources, basic education and the legal minimum age required to care for children.

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not ok, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

Feature

Paradox: Nordics' privileged youth feel miserable

Young people in the Nordic countries are among the most privileged in the world - yet many of them feel miserable. The Nordic Council is concerned and aims to find out why.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  3. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic co-operation on COVID-19
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic research collaboration on pandemics

Latest News

  1. Recovery plans unveiled This WEEK
  2. EU and UK stumbling into Irish border crisis
  3. Malta patrol boat 'intimidates' capsized migrants
  4. How coronavirus might hit EU defence spending
  5. Herman Van Rompuy on power and influence in the EU
  6. EU links access to recovery fund to economic advice
  7. EU wants to halve use of pesticides by 2030
  8. Top editors alarmed by media cuts in EU and beyond

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us