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EU labour deal “has been positive”

The free movement of people accord, which opened up the Swiss labour market to the European Union, has been hailed as a "motor for the economy".

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said in a report that there had been no negative effects on salary levels and employment, as widely feared.

These findings come ahead of a special parliamentary debate on the extension of the accord to the EU’s newest members – Romania and Bulgaria – on Monday.

The report, which considered the period 2002-2007, found that immigration from the EU had helped drive an upswing in the economy, but salaries had not been forced downwards and unemployment had not risen. Social security costs had also been less than expected, it added.

Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, manages its relations with the organisation through a set of bilateral treaties. The EU, with its 490 million consumers, is Switzerland’s most important trading partner.

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