Just over 53,000 people moved to Switzerland in 2017, of whom close to 31,000 came from the European Union
According to the “Tagesschau” programme of public broadcaster SRF, this is the lowest figure since the free movement of people accord with the “old” EU members came fully into effect in 2007.
The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) confirmed the figures, which were first published in the Sunday papers.
The figures show the number of citizens of EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries coming to Switzerland last year was 20 percent lower than the year before.
The peak year for immigration was 2008 when net migration – the number of immigrants minus the number of emigrants – stood at almost 100,000 people.
Immigration has been steadily decreasing since 2014, when Switzerland voted to approve the initiative “against mass immigration” that sought to limit the number of migrants through quotas.
The SEM said the fall in immigration was clearest among the European countries that have traditionally supplied the labour market: Germany and Italy.
Daniel Bach of the SEM said this was connected to the economic situation in those countries.
“Spain and Portugal have seen a normalization of their economic situation with more jobs available and less unemployment, and Germany’s strong growth means there is a high demand for labour there,” he said.
Bach said that the development of the Swiss economy and the economies of the EU countries would determine whether the trend towards lower immigration continued.
A little over two million foreigners lived in Switzerland last year, making up one quarter of the population.