Berne closes the door on East Europeans
19 April 2012
Tribune de Genève, Le Temps Comment
Tribune de Genève, 19 April 2012
Starting on 1st May, workers from eight EU countries (Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic) will be once again subject to quotas, reports the Tribune de Genève. Berne has decided to reactivate the “safeguard clause” included in the Swiss-EU agreement on the free movement of people signed a year ago. The Swiss Federal Council, which is hoping to reduce immigration from the EU (EU nationals now account for 1.1 million of the country’s 7.9 million population), believes that the annual influx of 38,000 additional EU migrants have prompted difficulties with regard to integration, as well as respect for working conditions and the minimum wage.
“Switzerland closes the door on East Europeans”, announces the front page headline of the Tribune de Genève, which argues that the measure “amounts to grandstanding”, because “free movement needed to be subject to control to remain acceptable”. Le Matin argues that the initiative will have “little practical impact”, while Le Temps insists that it is a “purely cosmetic” measure –
In activating the clause included in the agreement on free movement with the EU, the Federal Council wanted to send a clear message to those who are increasingly concerned by the upsurge of European immigration in Switzerland.
In German-speaking Switzerland, the press is mainly concerned about the effect the move will have on EU relations. Tagesanzeiger predicts a decline “in good will towards Switzerland, which is increasingly perceived as recalcitrant”, while St-Galler Tagblatt remarks that for the Federal Council, it was important to show the people that it is not intimidated by the prospect “of upsetting the EU”.
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