Tuesday

31st Mar 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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

... or join 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

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.

Feature

New year, old problems for one of EU's poorest places

The year is off to a rocky start in Vaslui, one of EU's most impoverished regions and Romania's poorest county, where two 12-year olds were found in alcohol-induced coma after having spent their Christmas carol-singing money on alcohol.

MEPs mark Violence Against Women day with urgent call

According to liberal MEP Anna Júlia Donáth, "violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations existing today and remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, and shame surrounding it."

Feature

Malmo, a segregated city - separating fact from fiction

Despite the neighbourhood's beautiful name, the reputation of Rosengård (Rose Garden) does not so much evoke images of roses as headlines of crime and social challenges. This area of Malmö has been struggling with its notorious, mythical, image for years.

News in Brief

  1. 12-year old Belgian girl dies of coronavirus
  2. EU Commission: no 'indefinite' emergency measures
  3. Denmark plans 'gradual' return to normal after Easter
  4. Globally over 780,000 cases of coronavirus, 37,000 deaths
  5. EU states losing 3% of GDP a month, IMF says
  6. Fruit pickers need to cross borders too, EU says
  7. Former Slovak minister to become EU envoy on Kosovo-Serbia
  8. Hungary's Orban wins rule-by-decree vote in parliament

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. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us