Switzerland is to extend immigration restrictions on to all 27 European Union countries. It follows a growing concern about a rise in the number of workers arriving, in particular from poorer EU members.
But although not itself part of the bloc, Switzerland signed up to EU rules on the freedom of movement and by introducing quotas on immigration its government is having to defend itself against an angry Brussels.
Swiss Federal Councillor for Justice and Police Simonetta Sommaruga, said:
“The Federal Council is of the opinion that we have a safeguard clause which is part of the agreement on the free movement of people and consequently the question of pleasing the EU does not arise.”
The council says the move will make immigration more acceptable to the Swiss.
But EU officials claim Switzerland is cherry picking European policy.
“We are not happy at all, we very much regret this decision. First of all they’ve decided to extend the measure they have imposed against eight member states last year and now they’ve extended it to another 17. It goes against the accord we had with the Swiss because as far as I am concerned this threshold hasn’t been reached and secondly because they are still differentiating between two different types of member states and you know, the EU has to be treated in the same way for all member states,” said EU foreign policy spokesman, Michael Mann.
Always having attracted migrant works, since the eurozone crisis numbers have risen. Government figures state those arriving in the country are now exceeding those leaving by 80,000.