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Free movement continues to benefit economy

The free movement of people continues to benefit the Swiss economy and contribute to population growth.

In a new evaluation of the agreement with the European Union to open labour markets, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said the negative effects of immigration on local workers were “very limited”.

The agreement on the free movement of people between Switzerland and the EU entered into force on June 1, 2002. Initially it applied to 15 “old” EU states, plus Malta and Cyprus, which were subject to quota limits until June 1, 2007. Citizens from Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway benefit from a similar agreement.

In 2006, the agreement was extended to include a further eight countries which joined the EU in 2004, which were subject to quotas until April 30 this year.

In the nine years since Switzerland opened its borders to foreign workers, a total of 68,000 workers had migrated to Switzerland, Seco said.

The majority of workers who had migrated to Switzerland under the agreement were “well or even very well qualified”, Seco said in its 2010 evaluation.

“As such, immigrants coming from this zone were a welcome complement to the local workforce,” Seco said. “Immigration has concentrated on the groups of professions where employment has increased in recent years, equally so for the local population.”

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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