Swiss Keep Labor Market Closed for Bulgarians, Romanians
Swiss authorities have decided to extend the restrictions for Bulgarian and Romanian workers after January 1, 2014, when EU countries will be forced to lift them, local media reported.
Switzerland is not an EU member state, but a member of the European Free Trade Association and has signed several bilateral treaties with the communitarian bloc which regulate, among others, free movement of people.
Swiss authorities can extend the labor restrictions until 2016 while the safeguard clause can be activated for another three years, until 2019.
The news comes half a year after Switzerland imposed quotas on the number of EU citizens working in the country. They came into effect for one year starting June 1.
The government in Berne said immigration has now reached unacceptable levels - with foreigners making up a quarter of the population.
The move has been criticized by the European Commission, which has warned that the quotas could jeopardise relations.
The Swiss have made a series of deals with the EU on the free movement of people in return for access to European markets.
The unemployment rate in Switzerland is 3%.
From June 1, immigrants from Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic have the number of long-term residence permits capped at 2,180.
From the same date, long-term residence permits for the 17 older EU states was capped at 53,700 for 12 months.
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