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EU immigrants top a million

The number of people living in Switzerland from European Union and European Free Trade Association countries has risen by 7.9 per cent to just over one million.

The foreign population from other countries increased by just 0.5 per cent in the same period - the end of August 2007 to the end of August 2008 - according to official statistics.

The bilateral accord with the EU on the free movement of people appears to be having an effect on the breakdown of foreigners in Switzerland.

There are 1.6 million foreign residents in Switzerland, including Swiss-born foreigners, out of a total population of 7.6 million.

Citizens of Germany, Portugal, France, Britain and Austria were the fastest-growing groups, while fewer immigrants from Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Sri Lanka made Switzerland their home.

The marginal increase in the numbers of non-EU immigrants is a reflection of the new law on foreigners, which only allows the recruitment of highly qualified workers from the rest of the world.