19 December 2016

Implementation of the mass immigration initiative

The parliamentary resolution on the mass immigration initiative is controversial. SP, FDP, Greens, GLP, and BDP have come to an agreement on a proposal for the implementation which will secure the agreement on free movement of persons with the EU, but which contradicts the wording and mandate of the constitutional article in the mass immigration initiative adopted by the electorate. CVP and SVP resisted the union in vain, arguing that the popular will is not being implemented correctly. In the final vote on Friday, the National Council voted to amend the revision proposal by 98 votes to 67 with 33 abstentions. The idea of quotas, which was anchored in the Federal Council's preliminary draft as a compromise solution, was completely rejected by the parliament. Instead, they are proposing a priority for unemployed persons of certain professional groups registered with the unemployment agency.

Job reporting for professional groups with high unemployment
In the future, employers in certain areas of activity, professional groups and economic regions will have to notify vacancies to the unemployment offices if unemployment is above average in these groups. These job advertisements are available exclusively to the jobseekers that are registered at the unemployment office for a certain period of time. At the same time, the unemployment agency must provide the employer with documents from potentially suitable candidates. Employers must consider these dossiers and invite candidates to interviews. The details of thresholds and periods of time must be regulated more precisely at regulatory level by the Federal Council.

The Parliament rejected a minority application, according to which only Swiss residents who had been registered at the unemployment office are to be taken into account for the priority. Theoretically, therefore, Europeans resident outside Switzerland can register with the employment agency and profit from the "unemployment priority".

Affected professional groups
It is still unclear what is meant by the term "above average". The Federal Council must define the criteria in the next few weeks. A threshold of 6% over the total unemployment is currently being discussed.

The use of the Indicator System for the Assessment of Expert Demand by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) can roughly determine who will fall within the affected professional group. According to this, mainly the construction and hospitality industries as well as domestic services are covered by the reporting obligation. The metal and glass processing industries are also likely to be affected professional groups. The technical professions, engineers, computer scientists, lawyers as well as positions in the management of the company are clearly below the average value of total unemployment.
 
No national priority, no quotas
The proposal for implementation, adopted by the Parliament, rejects national priority as laid down in the preliminary draft of the Aliens Act. The Parliament also deviates from the idea ofquotas: No maximum number of approved EU / EFTA citizens should be defined by the Federal Council. In this way, the free movement of persons with the EU / EFTA countries is not restricted and the Swiss legislation does not jeopardize the free movement agreement with the European Union. Thus, the Parliament has opted for a bilateral compliant interpretation and against the mandate of the constitutional article. On Friday the European Commission already commented positively on this development, saying this was a move in the right direction. By adopting the revision proposal in the final vote, Parliament also confirmed the extension of the free movement of persons to Croatia and opened the way for a Swiss participation in the EU support program for research and innovation - Horizon 2020. The next step will be for the Federal Council to clarify the details at regulatory level and wait for the three-month deadline. It is still pending as to when the statutory amendments come into force.

Author: Urs Haegi

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