Swiss government to restrict immigration from Western Europe, cites constant increase

GENEVA – The Swiss government plans to restrict immigration from Western European countries starting next month, citing constant growth in the number of people coming to work in the prosperous non-European Union country.

Under a “safeguard clause” in Switzerland’s agreements with the EU, the Alpine nation already imposes quotas on long-term residence permits for people from eight eastern European countries. The government said Wednesday it expects to apply it starting for a one-year period starting in May to the other western and southern EU countries.

A government statement said in recent years the number of foreigners arriving in Switzerland to work has been up to 80,000 higher each year than the number leaving. It said it concluded that restricting permits “can help to make immigration more acceptable to society.”