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"Integration is an economic opportunity"

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has described integration of foreigners as a challenge for the government but an opportunity for the economy.

Speaking at an international conference on the issue in Lucerne, Widmer-Schlumpf said the entire country shared responsibility for integration.

"I am convinced that integration, if managed resourcefully, is an investment for the future that can bring benefits for everyone – not only Swiss citizens and the Swiss economy, but also the 1.5 million people who live here without a Swiss pass," she said on Thursday.

Widmer-Schlumpf, who last month called for a tightening of asylum regulations as the number of applications continued to rise, admitted integration posed a challenge for the government.

On the one hand, she said, legal barriers to successful integration should be eased, on the other the government was trying to have integration recognised as a theme in all areas of everyday life.