Swiss-first hiring Bill makes progress

ZURICH • Swiss efforts to curb immigration from the European Union without provoking a clash with Brussels cleared another hurdle yesterday when Parliament's Upper House backed giving locals first crack at open jobs rather than adopting outright quotas.

The step is roughly in line with a Bill the Lower House adopted in September, skirting a direct confrontation with the EU, which has insisted on upholding the free movement of people, a key condition for enhanced Swiss access to the single market.

The two Bills still need to be reconciled ahead of a final vote next month, but both stop well short of the upper limits and quotas on immigration that Swiss voters demanded in a binding 2014 referendum.

Just how the EU reacts to the Swiss legislation will be scrutinised for hints of what Britain might expect as it negotiates terms of its divorce after voting in June to quit the 28-member bloc.

British Prime Minister Theresa May angered many member states by stating her intention to limit EU migration into Britain while seeking "maximum freedom" to operate in the EU's single market - two things Brussels says are incompatible. Mrs May's determination to prioritise cutting immigration, even at the expense of access to the single market, has sent the pound plunging and alarmed investors worldwide.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2016, with the headline 'Swiss-first hiring Bill makes progress'. Print Edition | Subscribe