[QODLink]
Europe

Switzerland restricts EU immigration

Justice and police ministry says it will now limit resident permits to citizens of other European nations.

Last Modified: 24 Apr 2013 20:42
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Catherine Ashton said the move disregards the "great benefits" that freedom of movement brings to Europe [EPA]

Switzerland has announced that it will extend immigration limits to all European Union countries amid pressure from the political far-right.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member, already has a quota in place for eight Eastern European members that joined the bloc in 2004, as well as special, stricter regulations for the newest members Bulgaria and Romania, which joined in 2007.

The justice and police ministry said on Wednewsday that it would now limit resident permits to a maximum of 53,700 annually for citizens from the remaining 17 EU countries.

Under an agreement with the European Union, Switzerland can invoke this so-called safeguard clause if immigration rises above a certain level.

The decision drew criticism from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who said it ran counter to agreements between the 27-member bloc and the Alpine country.

"These measures disregard the great benefits that the free movement of persons brings to the citizens of both Switzerland and the EU," she added.

The government's step came after the far-right Swiss People's Party and the right-wing ecological group Ecopop launched initiatives for referenda to slow immigration.

The overall number of immigrants had exceeded those leaving the country by 60,000 to 80,000 over the past years, the ministry said.

"The government does not view the invocation of the safeguard clause as an unfriendly act towards the EU," Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told reporters.

"It's a fact that there is unease among the population, and it's necessary to take this unease seriously," she added.

250

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list