Free Movement of Persons Switzerland – EU/EFTA
Yes to popular initiative aimed at stopping mass immigration
On June 21 1999, the European Union and Switzerland signed seven bilateral agreements including the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, which came into force on 1 June 2002. The right of free movement is complemented by the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, by the right to buy property, and by the coordination of social security systems. The same rules also apply to citizens of EFTA member states.
As a result of EU eastern enlargement on 1 May 2004, the agreement was supplemented by an additional protocol containing provisions for the gradual introduction of the free movement of persons as well in the ten new EU member states. The protocol came into force on 1 April 2006. In a referendum on 8 February 2009, the Swiss electorate approved the continuation of the Free Movement of Persons Agreement after 2009 and Protocol II on extending the Agreement to Romania and Bulgaria. The election result confirms Switzerland’s commitment to the Bilateral II agreements. The protocol came into force on 1 June 2009.
The Free Movement of Persons Agreement and its additional protocol lift restrictions on EU citizens wishing to live or work in Switzerland. The same rules apply to citizens of EFTA states. The citizens of the founding EU states, including Cyprus and Malta (EU-17), and the citizens of EFTA states have enjoyed free movement rights for several years already. The citizens of the EU-8 state were granted the same unrestricted free movement rights on 1 May 2011. The citizens of Bulgaria and Romania will remain subject to restrictions till 31 May 2016 at the latest.
Federal Council invokes safeguard clause for EU-171 and EU-82 states
The Federal Council decided to invoke the safeguard clause contained in the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons. After 1 May 2013, the quota for B-permits (5-year residence permits) will be kept in place for nationals of the EU-8 states and as of 1 of June 2013, quotas will be applied to B-permits for workers from EU-17 states as well. Quotas will apply for one year.
Affected by the quotas are persons with an employment contract valid for one or more than one year or indefinitely wishing to take up employment in Switzerland and therefore applying for a type B residence permit for gainfully employed persons. The same applies to the self-employed persons.
1) The EU-17 comprises the western and southern European countries Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, and the United Kingdom
2) The EU-8 comprises Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.