On 8 June 2017, Switzerland’s federal council said it would look at possibilities for reducing access of non-EU citizens to social welfare payments.
At the same time it dismissed a federal level proposal to make non-european residents wait 3 to 5 years after their arrival before gaining entitlement to social welfare on the grounds that it interfered too much with cantonal governments.
While parliamentarian Thomas Minder recognised the challenges, he said that a solution needed to be found because the costs of social welfare being paid to those from outside Europe were out of control. Another, Peter Föhn (UDC / SVP), said it was necessary to act instead of study the situation.
Minister of Justice Simonetta Sommaruga said that integration of migrants was a key part of the solution. And while this wouldn’t be free it would bring savings. Depending on the canton the percentage of refugees working ranges from 43% to 16%. Laws at a cantonal level already allow cantons to not renew or withdraw the residence permits of those dependent on welfare. And given Switzerland’s federal structure, Bern can only solve the problem by working closely with the cantons, she added.