Swiss labour market: “Swiss first” policy rather than EU nationals quota

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The Swiss Parliament agreed on Monday not to introduce quotas on EU migrants. Instead, the Swiss lower house introduced a bill that gives locals first choice for open jobs.

The bill is expected to be approved on Friday.

The Swiss compromise

EU officials have refrained from public comments on the Swiss parliamentary debate, following a binding 2014 referendum that obliged Switzerland to limit EU migration. The question is now how Brussels will react to the “Swiss jobs to Swiss people” law.

Although the bill does not pass the quota red line, it could be seen as discrimination that may well disrupt Swiss access to the single market. All bilateral accords between Switzerland and Brussels hand in the balance. However, Swiss diplomats are confident that this is unlikely.

The Swiss People’s Party that spearheaded the 2014 campaign against EU migration suggests the parliament defied the popular mandate. 25% of Switzerland’s 8,3 million labour market are EU citizens.

Britons

While there are concerns in Brussels on the spillover of the Swiss deal for Brexit negotiations, London has more immediate concerns.

There are approximately 41,000 British immigrants in Switzerland whose future is in jeopardy. In two years they will not be EU nationals and will not be eligible to live and work there. Britain will be a “third country” if it leaves the EU without joining the European Free Trade Association.

That could mean fewer Britons will be able to work in the Swiss banking sector. There are also 33,745 Swiss citizens and presumably there is scope for a bilateral agreement, that is, a negotiation that has yet to kickoff.

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