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Proposal to give foreigners born in Switzerland citizenship

Switzerland's citizenship regulations are under review

(Keystone)

A government advisory committee has called for all foreigners born in Switzerland to be given Swiss citizenship. The proposal is part of nationwide efforts to promote integration.

The Federal Foreigners Commission on Wednesday said it was important to adapt legislation to reality, as about 600,000 foreigners are eligible for citizenship. Most of them were born in Switzerland or went to school in the country.

Members of the commission say they are aware that much work needs to be done to convince voters of the need to amend citizenship laws. In 1994, the electorate rejected plans to ease naturalisation for young foreigners.

The Foreigners Commission is overseeing efforts aimed at improving integration and is expected to choose projects this year from a list of about 300. The ideas include supporting language courses and setting up a network of experts.

The president of the commission, Rosmarie Simmen, said she was confident that the annual budget of SFr10 million was a good starting point, although critics have dismissed the funds as derisory.

She said the commission would try to prove to parliament that the money was well spent and that more was needed to boost integration.

Simmen also said the commission was willing to put the past behind it. Last year, it was hit by mass resignations and a row over funding and whether the commission's office should be incorporated into the justice ministry.

Switzerland's foreign population is among the highest in Europe, at nearly 20 per cent. This has caused tensions in society and the education system in particular.

However, voters last year turned down a proposal to set a cap of 18 per cent on the proportion of foreigners.

swissinfo with agencies


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