With the March 29th deadline for the UK’s departure from the European Union fast approaching, the Swiss government said on Wednesday it planned to establish a separate quota of permits for British citizens wishing to work in Switzerland if there is a disorderly Brexit.
The plan is necessary because in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the current bilateral Swiss–EU Agreement on the free movement of persons (AFMP) would cease to apply to British nationals.
That means UK citizens coming to take up work in Switzerland "for the first time" after the deadline would essentially be treated as third country nationals and would be subject to the same permit quotas.
'A temporary measure'
But under the no-deal arrangements agreed to on Wednesday – and described by the Swiss government as temporary – a total of 3,500 ‘extra’ permits would be granted to UK citizens who are new to Switzerland for the period from March 30th to the end of this year.
This would include 2,100 residence (B) permits and 1,400 short-stay (L) permits.
“This is intended to mitigate the consequences for the economy and the cantons of an abrupt change in the status of British citizens from persons benefiting from freedom of movement to third country nationals,” said the Swiss government in a statement.
“It will also prevent undesirable competition for jobs between British citizens and other third country nationals,” the government added.
If London does manage to forge a withdrawal agreement with the EU before the March 29th deadline, the AFMP will continue to apply during a transitional period expected to run until the end of next year.
Switzerland and the UK on Monday finalized a trade agreement designed to protect economic and trade relations between the two countries.