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28 August 2019

In its session of 7 June 2019, the Federal Council passed its dispatch on the popular initiative "For moderate immigration" (the so-called Limitation Initiative). It spoke out against the Limitation Initiative and thus in favour of the free movement of persons.

The Limitation Initiative (launched by Swiss Peoples Party (SVP)) requires suspending the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons ("AFMP") with the EU within one year. If the negotiations fail within this period, the AFMP has to be terminated unilaterally. Therefore, the immigration of foreign nationals will be limited by Switzerland based on an independent regulation.

According to the dispatch of the Federal Council, the termination of the AFMP would have far-reaching consequences. If the AFMP is terminated, all other six agreements of the Bilateral Agreements I (the most important agreements with the EU) will also become invalid due to the "Guillotine Clause". In addition to the AFMP, the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, the Agreement on Trade in Agricultural Products and the agreements regarding land and air transport would also become invalid. There is also the risk that the EU could challenge all other agreements with Switzerland, such as the Schengen and Dublin Association Agreements. It would probably lead to a Swiss Brexit.

The Federal Council rejects the Limitation Initiative due to the central importance of the free movement of persons on the Swiss labour market. The free movement of persons allows employers to recruit skilled workers quickly, flexibly and without administrative effort in the EU/EFTA. This strengthens the competitiveness of the Swiss economy.

The current statistics on foreigners published by the State Secretariat for Migration also show that the main reason for immigration, both for short and long-term stays, is the pursuit of gainful employment. Around 68,000 EU/EFTA nationals came to Switzerland in 2019 to take up employment (cf. statistics on foreigners in the first half of 2019 - only German).

The Federal Council has not submitted any counterproposal to the Parliament. The debate on the Limitation Initiative will take place in Parliament after the national elections. Already during the vote on the initiative "Against Mass Immigration", which also dealt with the control of immigration, the voters disregarded the recommendation of the Federal Council and accepted the initiative. It remains open how the people will vote for the Limitation Initiative.

The Immigration Team will be happy to answer any questions and provide further information.

Authors: Fabia Bucher and Urs Haegi

Topics: ImmigrationFree movement of personsLimitation Initiative

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