• Switzerland edition
 
EU irked as Swiss clamp down on immigration
World Trade Organization (File)

EU irked as Swiss clamp down on immigration

Published: 19 Apr 2012 10:36 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Apr 2012 09:41 GMT+02:00

European leaders expressed consternation on Wednesday as Switzerland re-introduced quotas for immigrants from eight Central and Eastern European countries.

The decision was taken by the Swiss government on Wednesday to activate a safeguard clause in its bilateral agreement witrh the EU, which will restrict the number of work permits available to people from Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

“The safeguard clause is not the ultimate solution that will solve the problems alone, but it is one of the instruments at our disposal and that is why we will use it," Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga said on Wednesday, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, opposed the invocation of the clause, which she said infringed the rights of EU citizens to move freely in Switzerland.

"I regret the decision of the Swiss Federal Council", she said on Wednesday. 

The new EU president, Martin Schulz, also criticized Switzerland for violating the spirit as well as the text of the agreement with the EU, and accused Switzerland of discrimination against these eight countries. No citizen from one EU country should be treated any differently than a citizen from another member state, he said.

Switzerland has been considering activating the clause, which is contained in its bilateral treaty with the EU, for some time.

The country already met the one specific condition needed to trigger the clause last summer. This stipulates that the number of work permits granted to workers from the EU in the last year must have exceeded by at least 10 percent the annual average for the three previous years.

This level was reached last year mainly due to the high number of immigrants arriving from Eastern European countries, finance minister Johann Schneider-Ammann told the foreign affairs policy commission in January.

Many of the countries affected have reacted angrily to the decision.

"We are confident that the decision violates the agreement," said Vit Kolar, spokesman for the Czech foreign ministry.

The numbers of immigrants from these countries accounts for about six percent of all immigrants coming from the EU to Switzerland.

Immigrants from these countries are most often found in low-skilled jobs considered unattractive by Swiss workers, such as working in kitchens and on farms. Consequently, many commentators dispute that they are threatening jobs in Switzerland.

The restrictions are to come into force on May 1st 2012 and will last for one year, with an additional one-year extension should the government consider that circumstances require it.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

2012-04-23 12:17:09 by Rune
As a citizen of a EU country I hereby extend an official apology on behalf of the EU for the silliness of Baroness Catherine Ashton, so called “EU foreign policy chief.” She says she represents us, but we did not vote for her, we would not have voted for her had we been given the chance, and we do not want her. In the meantime the best you can do is carry on and ignore her. That’s what we do.
2012-04-20 18:22:03 by quiller
Imagine that, the EU complaining about Switzerland introducing quotas for immigration. When the last group of approx 13 countries entered the EU, not all of the EU countries permitted free movement or entry on day 1. How easy they all forget.
2012-04-20 17:51:32 by Global Macro
To appreciate the comments of the EU one must understand what their agenda is. Their goals are transnationalism, socialism, and to consolidate control in the EU and away from democratically elected governments. They want to destroy Swiss sovereignty and democracy. To accomplish that they must undermine and eventually eradicate anything that we would recognize as distinctly Swiss culture. Open immigration would help them to accomplish that goal.
2012-04-19 14:16:16 by HoppSuisse
Finally, a little common sense.

HoppSuisse
2012-04-19 13:54:37 by smeghead
Sounds like a good idea. very odd for politicians to do something like this
Today's headlines
Special permits for foreign strippers to end
Photo: AFP

Special permits for foreign strippers to end

Bern says it plans to stop issuing special work permits for foreign strippers hailing from countries such as Russia, the Dominican Republic and Thailand. READ  

Federer and Nadal win with ease in Basel
Federer acknowledges hometown spectators after win. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Federer and Nadal win with ease in Basel

Top seeds Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal raced through their Swiss Indoors assignments on Wednesday, spending under an hour each on court and dropping just five games between them. READ  

Swiss seek Unesco listing for yodelling
Photo: Swiss Images.ch/AFP

Swiss seek Unesco listing for yodelling

Switzerland announced on Wednesday that it would like the Alpine country's deep-seated traditions such as yodelling and precision watchmaking to be inscribed on a United Nations global heritage list. READ  

ABB's orders rise but third-quarter profits dip
Photo: ABB

ABB's orders rise but third-quarter profits dip

Swiss engineering group ABB on Wednesday reported a surge in orders from the energy industry in the third quarter, but warned of headwinds from the slowing global economy. READ  

Red faces at Migros over Hitler coffee cream pots
Photo: AFP

Red faces at Migros over Hitler coffee cream pots

Swiss retailer Migros apologized on Wednesday for what it said was a string of errors which put coffee cream with the faces of Hitler and Mussolini in cafes in the Alpine country. READ  

Cold and snow signal end to Indian summer
Webcam view of La Tzoumaz in the 4 Vallées resort area in the canton of Valais on Wednesday. Photo: Televerbier.ch

Cold and snow signal end to Indian summer

After a summery weekend with temperatures as high as 24 degrees, parts of Switzerland experienced an early taste of winter on Wednesday with snow falling at levels as low as 600 metres in some areas. READ  

Switzerland regarded as 'best place for expats'
Photo: Zurich Tourism

Switzerland regarded as 'best place for expats'

Switzerland is the world's favourite destination among expats, followed by Singapore and China, a poll on quality of life for bank HSBC found. READ  

Swiss Guard launches popes' recipe book
Photo: AFP

Swiss Guard launches popes' recipe book

From an Argentinian dessert that translates as "milk candy" to Polish ravioli, a member of Vatican's famed Swiss Guard on Tuesday unveiled a range of recipes of dishes favoured by popes. READ  

Zermatt ranks among top places to visit in 2015
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Zermatt ranks among top places to visit in 2015

Swiss mountain resort Zermatt is listed among the world's top ten towns and cities to visit in 2015 by Lonely Planet, the travel guide. READ  

Swiss pedestrian safety takes turn for worse
Drivers largely responsible for upturn in pedestrian accidents: report. Photo: BFU

Swiss pedestrian safety takes turn for worse

Although Swiss streets are regarded as among the safest in the world, a pedestrian dies on average every week from motor vehicle accidents, while two are seriously injured every day, the Swiss accident prevention bureau (BFU) says. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Majority of Swiss back proposed new immigration curbs: poll
Features
Eritrean asylum seekers find refuge in Swiss monastery town
National
Expat American professor disputes 'unjust' Swiss citizenship rejection
National
Sputtering eurozone drags down Swiss economic growth forecast
Features
Swiss-based English expat writer lauds immigrant 'brains and brawn'
International
Our survey: Switzerland third priciest for food and drink from back home
National
Zurich market gardener sets world 'record' for heaviest pumpkin
National
Report: Switzerland's residents richer than before economic crash
Features
Geneva lab sleuths use high tech to help art world uncover fakes
National
Father of Scot missing since early September fears Swiss trauma
National
Foreign women give birth to rising share of newborns: latest figures
National
'Giant's penis' bloom in Basel uni botanical garden bigger than ever
National
Switzerland's voters reject public health insurance proposal
National
Zooming foreign immigration continues to boost Swiss population
National
Scientific study rings alarm over wellbeing of Swiss cows with bells
National
Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water in restaurants
Business & Money
Switzerland's residents top world financial wealth list: Allianz report
National
Saint Maurice abbey in Valais celebrates 1,500 years of history
National
Streaming movie video service Netflix arrives in Switzerland
National
Professional Chilean base jumper dives to death in Swiss Alps
Education
ETH Zurich remains top university in Europe: QS world rankings
National
Switzerland's housing vacancy rate jumps: new federal figures
National
Swiss football club fires team masseuse over explicit sex video
National
Geneva police arrest easyJet passenger over hand luggage row
Business & Money
Latest forecasts for Swiss economic growth turn less bullish
Sport
Formula One legend Schumacher to continue treatment at Swiss home
National
Former federal planning official calls for nine Swiss cantons
Features
The Local gets the lowdown on mushroom picking in Switzerland
National
Virgin boss Richard Branson's son rescued from peak of Matterhorn
National
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter's commute turns Twitter sensation
Features
High-tech cameras give dizzy view of Eiger's north face (VIDEO)
Politics
Baden municipal council strips 'nude selfies mayor' of duties
Business & Money
Switzerland stays atop competitiveness table for sixth year
National
Federal parliament secretary agrees to step down over nude selfies
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
National
Swiss gays recognized as parents of child born to surrogate mother
Health
Increase in mountain bike accidents keeps Swiss hospitals busy
National
Swiss policeman belatedly honoured for saving Jews from Holocaust
National
'Suicide tourists' to Switzerland double in three years: study
National
Swiss Post SMS scheme gets stamp of approval after pilot project
Business & Money
American tax evasion crackdown hits Swiss private banks' bottom line
Politics
Woman accuses Swiss politician in nude selfies scandal of lying
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,263
jobs available