Switzerland: Improving EU economy curbs immigration

400Fewer people migrated to Switzerland last year than at any point in the past ten years and the number of arrivals from the European Union plunged last year, the Swiss media reported Monday.

The number of European Union workers arriving in Switzerland halved last year from a peak in 2013 and net immigration from EU states stood at 30,799 in 2017, Swissinfo said, quoting the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

That number of EU arrivals was down from 60,957 fours years earlier. The peak year for immigration was 2008 when net migration – the number of immigrants minus the number of emigrants – stood at almost 100,000 people.

Immigration has been steadily decreasing since 2014, when Switzerland voted to approve the initiative “against mass immigration” that sought to limit the number of migrants through quotas.

The main reason cited for the decline in numbers is the improving economic situation in many EU countries, according to the State Secretariat for Migration, that confirmed the figures. The SEM said the fall in immigration was clearest among the European countries that have traditionally supplied the labour market: Germany and Italy.

Daniel Bach of the SEM said this was connected to the economic situation in those countries. “Spain and Portugal have seen a normalization of their economic situation with more jobs available and less unemployment, and Germany’s strong growth means there is a high demand for labour there,” he said.

Bach said that the development of the Swiss economy and the economies of the EU countries would determine whether the trend towards lower immigration continued.

Nevertheless, the conservative right Swiss People's Party says it will press on with plans to promote a new initiative to curb immigration.

People's Party chief Albert Rosti told the newspaper that a long-term average of 80,000 net immigrants from all countries is too high. Last year, net immigration from all countries stood at 53,200.

In 2014, Swiss voters backed a referendum by a wafer thin majority to curb immigrants, but the People's Party is unhappy with the compromise version of the vote that has actually been put into place.

Rather than place limits on immigrants, Swiss companies have been told to favor Swiss workers when filling positions.The latest Swiss figures show that at the end of 2016, there were 2.03 million legally resident foreigners in Switzerland out of a total population of 8.37 million people.


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