The limitation initiative, which will be voted nationwide on May 14th, was created by the SVP and the Action for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland (ASIN), and aims to implement quotas on EU immigrants — a measure accepted in a 2014 referendum.
It is asking the authorities to negotiate with Brussels the end of the free movement agreement, which allows EU nationals to live and work in Switzerland.
“I see migration as the biggest driver of wasted resources, and therefore the main driver of CO2 emissions,” the outgoing SVP / UDC president Albert Rösti told the 365 delegates at the assembly.
About 1.4 million citizens of EU member states currently work in Switzerland, including 325,000 cross-border workers who commute each day to their Swiss jobs.
If the initiative passes, Swiss authorities would have one year to negotiate an end to its agreement with Brussels.
Rösti said that the free-movement clause has not been beneficial for Switzerland — in particular due to the pressure on employment and wages, the costs of social assistance linked to the long-term unemployment of migrants, as well as high rents.
“We do not want a Switzerland with 10 million inhabitants,” he added.
The party also wants Switzerland to manage its immigration policy independently, without the interference of the EU. “We don't have to receive orders from Brussels”, SVP deputy Ueli Maurer told the delegates.
In the absence of a solution, the government should cancel the agreement, even at the risk of terminating other bilateral treaties it signed with the EU, the SVP said.
Switzerland has over 100 agreements with its European neighbours, regulating cooperation in trade, taxation, air and land transport, scientific research, and other areas.
The government, as well as major Swiss parties, are against the limitation initiative, arguing that such a move would be detrimental to Switzerland’s economy and its relations with Brussels.
The SVP has initiated a number of controversial referendums over the years, opposing immigration as well as close ties with the EU.