After three years discussing its relationship with the European Union, Switzerland has officially rejected imposing quotas on EU workers. Switzerland is not an EU country but enjoys access to the free market.
On 16th December 2016, a new immigration Law was passed with the aim of preventing a deeper dispute with the European Union and to avoid endangering Switzerland”s access to the single market.
Instead of imposing quotas on EU workers, as the 2014 referendum seemed to support, it will give priority to residents for any new job vacancies, setting out guidelines for employers. Critics have stated that these guidelines will only be applicable if unemployment in certain sectors or regions is much higher than the national average, not fully controlling immigration volumes.
While high immigration is of concern for the Swiss population, the country seems to need foreign workers. On 12th October 2016, the Swiss government also announced an increase in the work permit quotas for Non-EU nationals for the coming year.
In general, support for the EU bilateral agreements is strong and the potential economic impact of annulling them is a concern for the Swiss government.
Brussels had previously refused the Swiss attempt to restrict free moment, stating that such a change would automatically exclude the country from the single market. Brussels” approach and the Swiss response create an important precedent for the United Kingdom and its interests of maintaining its access to the single market while curbing EU immigration.
The new legislation is currently being analysed by the European Union to ensure that it does not discriminate against EU workers, but the initial comments have been positive.
If you require any additional information as an EU national in Switzerland, please contact a member of our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.