Switzerland decides to restrict for a year the access of Romanians and Bulgarians to its labour market.
Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, but it has several agreements with it, including one on the free movement of people. However, Bern has decided to restrict, for one year, the access of Romanians and Bulgarians to its labour market. Switzerland can do that under a clause which says that, by 2019, it can unilaterally establish a ceiling for newly released work permits, if in one year, their total number exceeds by 10% the average of the previous three years. Therefore, the Swiss have decided that in the next 12 months they will only issue a maximum 996 long stay permits, that is, the type B permits issued for Romanians and Bulgarians.
The Romanian Foreign Ministry has come up with additional information. The measure could be extended to 2018 as well. The good part, though, is that it does not affect type L short stay permits, or the possibility to extend the type B permits that have already been issued.
In a phone conversation with the Secretary of State with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, Pascale Baerswyl, the State Secretary with the Romanian Foreign Ministry George Ciamba has voiced regret for the decision made in Bern. He said that there has been a small number of Romanians applying for a type B permit in the past year, and the measure runs counter to the contribution that the Romanian community in Switzerland, most of it highly qualified, has had on the local labour market. Any decision regarding the free movement of people must be in line with the spirit of the partnership between the EU and Switzerland, the main goal being to observe the principle of free movement of people and workers and to prevent discrimination against the European citizens, the Romanian official said.
The Romanian MEP Victor Negrescu has too addressed a critical message to the Swiss part, terming the decision as unfair to Romania and a sign of distrust in Romania, Bulgaria and the EU alike. The Social Democrat has already called on the European Commission to immediately check whether the decision fully complies with the legal requirements in force and the provisions of the agreements between the EU and Switzerland. Also, Victor Negrescu has called on the Commission to supervise the implementation of the measure and to make sure the right to work is granted again as soon as possible. This would be a good time for the EU to show it can protect its citizens and that it can react when there are signs of unfair treatment, the Romanian MEP also said.
What is worth mentioning, though, is that Romanians have for some time now had problems on the labour market, including within the EU. A textbook example is that of Great Britain. Experts say that the formal start of Brexit will have consequences difficult to predict as regards the fate of the people who work or study there.
(translated by: Mihaela Ignatescu)