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Government announces plans to tighten immigration laws

The Swiss justice minister, Ruth Metzler, outlines the new proposals Keystone

The government has unveiled proposals to limit the number of foreigners living and working in Switzerland. The new law would be aimed solely at people who come from non-European Union countries.

This content was published on July 5, 2000 - 22:32

The justice ministry said that, under the new law, non-EU immigrants would be refused entry into Switzerland unless their skills were urgently needed.

It said abuse of the current law by a small minority of foreigners made changes necessary. However, it said that restrictions on foreigners already resident in Switzerland should be eased by removing obstacles that limit changing professions or cantons.

It also said the integration of foreigners is more important than the number of foreign residents.

The justice minister, Ruth Metzler, said that foreigners currently accounted for a quarter of Switzerland's worforce.

The draft law is the government's answer to an initiative which aims to limit the number of foreigners in Switzerland to no more than 18 per cent of the population. A nationwide vote on the issue is due in September.

A survey carried out by the justice ministry last week showed that 51 per cent of the population was in favour of the initiative. Only 35 per cent were against.

Both the government and parliament are against the initiative. They believe it would challenge a bilateral agreement with the European Union, which guarantees free movement of people between the EU and Switzerland. The country voted in favour of the agreement in a national referendum in May.

swissinfo with agencies


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