Currently, across EU and EFTA countries, unemployment benefits are paid by the country of residence. Last week, the EU announced plans to make the country of employment pay unemployment benefits instead.
This change could be costly for Swiss cantons with large numbers of cross-border workers, workers who live in the EU but work in Switzerland.
In March 2018, there were 316,000 workers in Switzerland living outside the country. Cantons with the most cross-border workers were Geneva (84k), Ticino (63k), Basel-City (35k) and Vaud (30k).
Speaking to the newspaper Tribune de Genève, Cornelia Lüthy, from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), said the extra cost to Switzerland could be hundreds of millions of francs.
The EU decision is not yet definitive. And, according to SEM, Switzerland would not be bound to follow the change, however if it didn’t, it would complicate its bilateral agreement with the EU on free movement of people.
The Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) said it will launch cantonal votes to prevent the move and will not tolerate Switzerland paying unemployment benefits to cross-border workers.
The employment minister in Luxembourg, another country with many cross-border workers, sharply criticised the plan too, according to the Luxembourg Times.
The plan must now be presented to the EU parliament in Brussels.