Before employing foreigners employers must first interview unemployed locals and justify why they did not employ them. This is the essence of a proposal to tighten immigration, which was approved yesterday by Switzerland’s upper house, known as the Council of States. The plan would affect employers taking on staff in occupations or professions with above average unemployment, for example catering and construction. According to Le Temps, fines for non-compliance could run as high as CHF 40,000.
In September 2016, a parliamentary commission inspired by Philipp Müller (PLR/FDP), came up with the first varient of this plan to implement controls on immigration. At the time, President Schneider-Ammann described the proposal as “interesting”. “This multi tiered plan addresses the constitutional mandate without damaging the agreement on free movement of people”, he said in an interview with SonntagsZeitung.
Back in February 2014, Swiss voters decided by a slim majority of 50.3% to adopt new rules on immigration. The Swiss government has three years to implement the changes and the deadline is fast approaching. The biggest stumbling block has been agreeing a deal with the EU. Bilateral Agreements with the EU come as a package that includes free trade and the free movement of people. Brussels has repeatedly said that Switzerland cannot pick and choose the bits of the agreement that it wants.
- A 5-step guide to Switzerland’s immigration changes (Le News)
- Switzerland’s patchwork of EU deals – at a glance (Le News)
The latest plan, modified and approved by 26 votes against 16 in the States Council yesterday, will be discussed again in the National Council, or lower house, on Monday.
The Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) is against the plan. In a communiqué yesterday it said: a majority in both federal legislative houses is openly violating the constitutional mandate imposed by the people and the cantons and is trampling on Switzerland’s system of direct democracy. It also said the plan will not reduce immigration or allow it to be managed autonomously, and it will burden companies with extra administration.