The number of foreigners taking up residence in Switzerland has fallen over the past year, according to figures released by the migration office on Tuesday.
Although there were 5.4 per cent more European citizens living in Switzerland at the end of April than there had been 12 months previously, the rate of increase was lower than at any time since the beginning of 2008, the office said.
It attributed the slowdown to the worsening economic situation in Switzerland.
Citizens of the 27 members of the European Union and four members of the European Free Trade Area (which includes Switzerland) are covered by an agreement on the free movement of people, which allows them to live and work in each other's countries.
The number of citizens from countries outside this agreement rose by only 0.3 percent in the same period. The migration office said this reflected changes to the law on foreigners, under which only highly qualified workers may be recruited from these countries.
The total number of foreigners resident in Switzerland on April 30 was 1,655,224, of whom 1,041,927 came from the EU and EFTA.
The largest increases were in citizens from German, Portugal, France, Britain and Poland, while the number of citizens of Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Sri Lanka and Turkey fell, in keeping with the trend of the past few years.
The statistics of the federal migration office cover foreigners who have been resident for at least a year, and who have permits that do not restrict them to a 12-month stay. Diplomats and their families and asylum seekers are not included.
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