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Switzerland to curb immigration beginning in May

April 25, 2013

In a move widely criticized around the European Union (EU) Switzerland has decided to cap the number of foreign citizens that can immigrate there each year. Switzerland is not an EU member, but did agree to freedom of movement rules that allow EU members wide flexibility to work abroad in member states. 

When Switzerland signed onto the freedom of movement agreement, it did so with a proviso that the nation could enact a protective immigration policy if the number of foreign workers entering the country was above a certain amount per year, reports the BBC. Swiss officials now say that the tipping point has been reached and that the nation's economy can no longer support the volume of EU member state ex-patriots who are leaving their recession ravaged home economies to seek work in Switzerland where unemployment remains low and the franc remains stable. 

Workers from central European nations like Estonia, Latvia, Hungary and Poland will see the number of available long-term (two year) permits capped at 2,180 annually. Long-term permits for residents of the EU-17 nations such as Germany, Italy, France and Portugal will have their permits capped at 53,700 per year. 

The BBC reports that EU leaders are widely dissatisfied with the Swiss decision to use the safeguard clause and the move to treat different regions of the 27 nation block differently from each other since in theory all EU nations are supposed to be co-equal. 

"The EU attaches great importance to the free movement of persons in the overall context of its relations with Switzerland," said EU representative Catherine Ashton in a statement. "These measures disregard the great benefits that the free movement of persons brings to the citizens of both Switzerland and the EU. I regret the decision of the Swiss Government to depart from the approach followed in 2008 and 2009 when the safeguard clause was not invoked despite the possibility offered by the Agreement."

Foreign workers in any nation are well served with an international calling card so they can stay connect to friends and family who miss them at home. 


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