The Swiss government has concluded that the “free movement of people” treaty, which came into effect nine years ago, has had a positive on the country’s economy.
The treaty, part of a series of bilateral agreements that allow Switzerland to participate in the EU’s single market, opened up Switzerland’s labour market, making it more flexible when the economy struggled.
The report, published Thursday, was written by a panel of experts from three government departments and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). It concluded that free movement has aided both economic and population growth.
The report found that immigration and economic growth have a reciprocal relationship – the better the economy, the more people move to Switzerland, which in turn fuels growth further.
Free movement also helped cushion the blow of the 2009 recession, according to the report, since immigrants tended to increase consumption and stimulate construction investment.
The report also found that foreigners did not necessarily drive natives out of jobs, even though competition has increased.
Nevertheless, the report admitted that Switzerland’s border regions were at a disadvantage because of the free movement treaty. Cross-border commuters have apparently caused higher unemployment there.
But this was reportedly balanced by another positive effect of immigration – it slows the aging of society, and therefore eases the burden on the social security system.