Swiss limit EU immigrants

News | Vienna Review | July / August 2013

Beginning on 1 June, Switzerland is limiting immigration from all EU states for a period of one year.

Switzerland signed up to the bloc’s rules on freedom of movement in 1999, but the agreement included a "safeguard clause" allowing a cap on work permits if annual influx exceeds a certain number.

A government statement said that immigration exceeded 80,000 in recent years. Immigration for the eight newest members of the EU will be capped at 2,180, for the 17 older EU states it will be 53,700.

Pressure from the far-right Swiss People’s Party and the right-wing ecological group Ecopop made the government enact the clause.

The quotas will only last for one year as the clause becomes void in mid-2014, but Switzerland will hold two referendums to extend the limits before. The European Commission has warned that these limits could hurt Swiss-EU relations

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