Saturday

25th Feb 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Dutch plan global fund for safe abortion

The Dutch want to lead efforts to make up the shortfall in aid for safe abortions around the world, after Donald Trump announced the US would not fund such projects.

Visual Data

EU farming policy: The damage done by 20 years of inertia

The EU Commission will ask the public later this week how the common agricultural policy should be overhauled. Data from the past two decades reveals a catalogue of missed chances and failed reforms.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin the Rare Disease Day and Help to Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations