Swiss voters have rejected proposals to cut net migration to no more than 0.2% of the population, citing it would have been bad for the economy. Only 26% of voters supported the proposals, arguing it would have reduced pressure on the countries resources.
The immigration proposal, dubbed “Ecopop”, after the movement which seeks to link environmental protection with controlling population growth in Switzerland, would have required the country to reduce net migration to just 16,000 from 81,000 people last year.
Switzerland has depended on immigration over the years for growth, recruiting high numbers of foreign workers in the 1950s and 1960s, with over 23% of their 8 million population now being foreign nationals, mainly from the EU.
Even though unemployment is low and wages are high, there are growing concerns that continued high levels of net migration will put strains on transport links and housing, resulting in a negative environmental impact.
The referendum went ahead following pressure from right-wing and left-wing groups, who under Swiss law, can force through a popular vote if a petition is signed by 100,000 people.
Overall it seems that the proposals were rejected as business leaders felt it would be bad for the economy and would limit their ability to recruit skilled labour from the EU. There were also fears that the measures could affect the country”s external image and that it would go against its international commitments. The majority of voters agreed with this sentiment, appearing keen to preserve Switzerland”s unique balance of economic independence and international co-operation within Europe.
However, in separate news, the Swiss Federal Council have adopted an amendment of the Ordinance on Admission, Stay and Employmentt (OASA), which will see a reduction in the quota for non-EU nationals and EU-national assignees from 1st January 2015.
For Non-EU nationals, the quota for (L) short-term residence permits will be reduced to 4,000 from 5,000 and (B) residence permits will be reduced to 2,500 from 3,500. For EU national assignees the quota for the (L) short-term residence permits will be reduced to 2,000 from 3,000 and the (B) residence permit will be reduced to 250 from 500.
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