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Top businessman urges immigrant quotas

Malcolm Curtis · 21 Dec 2012, 11:08

Published: 21 Dec 2012 11:08 GMT+01:00

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Unrestricted mobility of workers between the European Union and Switzerland combined with an “unconditional multicultural attitude” threatens the country’s social stability, Dörig said in an interview with the Nordwestschweiz newspaper.

“Switzerland needs a controlled free mobility (of workers) with the entire world so that we receive the workers we really need,” he said.

Dörig, who is also a member of the executive board of Economiesuisse, an umbrella group for Swiss business, said he did not believe that Switzerland should abandon its freedom of movement of workers agreement with the EU.

But the agreement “should be applied in as restrictive a way as possible within the framework of the existing accord” — and that means quotas, he said.

Switzerland has experienced a strong influx of foreigners into the country since the free movement of persons agreement with the EU came into effect in 2002.

An estimated 75,000 net immigrants are expected in the country this year, while foreigners account for 22 percent of the population.

The population growth has put pressures on housing availability and affordability and driven development in urban areas.

Switzerland cannot continue to expand without curbs to freedom of persons deals with other countries and regions of the world, Dörig said.

The danger is, “if we do not succeed in becoming more restrictive on immigration, citizens will sooner or later massively limit Switzerland’s openness to the rest of the world at the polls (in a referendum),” he said.

Unrestricted immigration also threatens, he said, to bring additional costs to the country to pay for extra infrastructure and social plans.
Dörig acknowledged that the Swiss economy has benefited in recent years from the labour mobility deal with the EU.

But not everybody has benefited in the same way, he noted.

The economy needs competition and the greatest freedom possible, Dörig said.

“On the other hand, we must not leave (the regulation of) immigration solely to the free market.”

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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