Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

EU commission to map gender recognition

The European Commission will start looking at how EU states determine genders - as part of an effort to make it easier for people to determine their own identities.

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

News in Brief

  1. European Parliament votes on reform of copyright
  2. New French-German parliament meets for first time
  3. EU parliament reduces polling ahead of elections
  4. UK parliament votes to take control of Brexit process
  5. EU publishes no-deal Brexit contingency plans
  6. EU urges Israel and Gaza to re-establish calm
  7. May admits 'not sufficient support' for third Brexit vote
  8. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. France takes Chinese billions despite EU concerns
  2. Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?
  3. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  4. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  5. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  6. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  7. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  8. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us