Swiss limit permits for workers from all EU countries

ZURICH (REUTERS) - Switzerland will impose immigration quotas on a further 17 European Union countries from June, the Federal Office for Migration said on Wednesday, a move that could pose a headache for many multinational companies that rely on EU workers.

Prosperous, non-EU Switzerland has seen the net influx of workers rise to up to 80,000 a year, contributing to a house price bubble and prompting criticism from right-wing parties.

Under the terms of the 1999 Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, Switzerland may invoke a "safeguard clause", which allows temporary caps on work permits if the annual influx exceeds a certain number.

Last month, the Swiss government imposed quotas restricting arrivals from eight central and eastern European countries and on Wednesday the Migration Office confirmed the quotas will also apply to a further 17 states in western and southern Europe from June 1.

Immigration of workers from Bulgaria and Romania - the two EU members of the 27 not covered by the two sets of quotas - is already restricted separately.

The quotas are effective for 12 months and will restrict the number of so-called B-permits, which allow foreigners to work for up to five years in Switzerland, to 53,700.