Switzerland moves towards introducing EU immigrant quotas

The Government of Switzerland yesterday unveiled draft legislation which will impose limits on the number of immigrants from the European Union moving to the country.

In a referendum held last year, the Swiss narrowly voted in favour of introducing quotas for EU migrants. Although Switzerland isn’t a member of the Union, it had previously signed a package of accords 13 years ago that facilitated the same rights to free movement of people to those seen throughout the EU.

Although the government was, and remains largely against the quotas, it has drafted legislation, which will now be debated in parliament. The legislation urges the reintroduction of work and residence permit quotas for any EU citizens who plan to remain in Switzerland for longer than four months.

Priority for permanent residents in the jobs market will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Exceptions to the policy of giving priority to Swiss residents will be made in professions experiencing a skills shortage.

The draft law will also limit the movement of tens of thousands of European citizens who commute to Switzerland daily, and see the number of refuges and non-working immigrants (for example, retirees) reduced.

If approved, the new laws will take effect in February 2017.

Figures show some 80,000 foreigners, most of them from the EU, annually immigrate to Switzerland, where a quarter of the eight-million population are foreign nationals.