Switzerland Rejects EU Migrant Quotas To Retain Access To The Single Market banner


Switzerland Rejects EU Migrant Quotas To Retain Access To The Single Market

  • Posted on

In a move that may predict how Britain negotiates freedom of movement after it triggers Article 50 next year, the Swiss government has done a U-turn on imposing quotas on EU workers in a bid to preserve its close economic ties with the bloc, opting instead to implement news laws to curb Immigration by giving residents priority for new job vacancies.

The stand-off between Bern and Brussels has been ongoing since the 2014 Swiss referendum where the population voted overwhelmingly to limit migration from the EU.

Switzerland is not part of the EU or the EEA; instead it has a complex economic and trading relationship with the EU, governed by a web of more than 120 bilateral treaties. These treaties are all linked by a “guillotine clause” – meaning that if one is violated, they all collapse.

A quarter of Switzerland’s population – about two million people – are foreigners, including nearly one and a half million EU citizens, with 365,000 more commuting in daily from neighbouring EU countries France, Germany and Italy.

The new law relating to job vacancies, to which the EU is expected to respond formally next week, requires employers in sectors or regions with above-average unEmployment to advertise vacancies at job centres and give locals priority before recruiting from abroad.

While there are exemptions, for example for family firms, companies that violate the law will face fines of up to 40,000 Swiss francs (£31,000).

However, to the fury of the populist, ultra-conservative SVP party, which backed the referendum, there is no mention of quotas. Also, cross-border commuters to Swiss jobs, plus EU residents in Switzerland, will be able to register with a Swiss job centre and get the same treatment as Swiss citizens.

There is no firm guarantee that Brussels will accept the carefully crafted Swiss solution. The Commission has repeatedly said it will need to be assured that any deal proposed by the Swiss does not discriminate against EU workers.

Brussels will also be wary of creating a flexible precedent that Britain might be able to use in negotiating a new bilateral relationship with the bloc, in particular in trying to manage migration while preserving single market ties.

However, it is guaranteed that Brexit negotiators, both in Britain and the bloc will be intensely interested in whether or not Brussels accepts the Swiss solution presented to them this week.

    Get in touch

    Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.