Switzerland will restrict Bulgarian and Romanian citizens’ access to its labor market within one year amid increased migration from those countries after limits were lifted last June.
The Swiss cabinet, whose problems with immigration from the European Union have been at rise since 2014 referendum demanding quotas to be imposed for foreign labor, will limit the number of five-year residence permits for Romanians and Bulgarians to level of one thousand (996).
While free movement of workers between Switzerland and the European Union is ensured by bilateral agreements, a special “safeguard clause” allows the Swiss to impose unilateral limits.
Migrant workers from Romania and Bulgaria, who have enjoyed freedom of movement since June 2016, exceeded the threshold last year, with their numbers in Switzerland rising by a net 3,300, about double the increase from 2015.
“Since introduction of full freedom of movement, Romanians and Bulgarian workers have been increasingly coming for seasonal jobs in sectors with higher-than-average unemployment rates,” the Swiss cabinet said. “The government is employing one of the tools at its disposal to control migration.”
Around 14,330 Romanians and 8,112 Bulgarians live in Switzerland according to the official data. Switzerland’s population of 8.4 million is about a quarter foreign.