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Implementing initiative


Brussels lawyers sceptical of Swiss immigration plan


European Union lawyers appear to have poured cold water on a proposed political compromise to restrict the flow of foreign workers to Switzerland, according to a leaked document seen by Swiss public television, SRF.

The document questions whether a watered down, or “light”, implementation of a 2014 people’s initiative to curb immigration can actually work in practice. In September, parliamentarians came up with the plan that they thought could square the will of the Swiss people to reduce immigration with Switzerland’s obligation to allow the free movement of people within the EU.

The compromise solution involves applying an emergency handbrake in times of economic stress by compelling companies to favour Swiss nationals when hiring for job vacancies. The suggestion has yet to become official government policy, but a firm decision on how to address the situation must be made within the next four months.

In the meantime, EU lawyers have been scrutinizing the proposal and have found it flawed, according to SRF. "Every measure that favours Swiss workers harms the anti-discrimination clause in Article 2 of the bilateral agreement," states the internal EU document seen by SRF reporters.

It also states that there would be particular problems with a proposed joint committee of Swiss and EU officials who would iron out problems created by Switzerland’s new immigration policy.

No such committee would be authorized to deal with issues that violated the Swiss-EU bilateral agreement on the free movement of people, the document says.

In the view of lawyers, the bilateral agreement does not allow for any restrictions to be placed on the movement of workers from the EU, according to the SRF media report.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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