As Vedran Marjanovic/Novac writes on the 27th of May, 2019, as of June the 1st this year, Switzerland will fully open up its labour market for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, while Croatian citizens will still have labour restrictions placed on them, and require a work permit in order to legally work within the country, which is not a member state of the European Union, according to a report from the Bulgarian State News Agency (BTA).
Referring to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, BTA states that on the 15th of May, 2019, the Swiss Federal Council decided to open its labour market entirely for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, thus leaving Croatian citizens as the only EU citizens who need to continue to wait until further notice. The agency notes that Switzerland and the European Union have agreed on the free movement of workers, which is a core principle of access to the EU’s single market, but the country has exercised its fundamental right to restrict access to its labour market for the citizens of selected EU member states.
Similar measures were once put in place by the United Kingdom and Malta, but both countries have since dropped their restrictions, allowing Croatian citizens full access to their labour markets and the ability to work freely without needing any sort of work permit, and the Croatian Government quickly ensured the same conditions for Maltese and British citizens in Croatia.
The decision on the limited access to the Swiss labour market for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens is due to expire at the end of May this year as Switzerland used the maximum ten year period to postpone the full and free flow of workers from Bulgaria and Romania into Switzerland. According to BTA’s data, about 11,000 Bulgarians already work in Switzerland.
For Croatian freelance workers in Switzerland, the decisions of the Swiss Government will continue to be in place until at least 2021. The Croatian Ministry of Labour has since warned that Switzerland could restrict the access of Croatian citizens to its labour market until 2026.
According to the data of the Swiss Immigration Office, in February this year, 5832 Croatian workers obtained work permits in Switzerland, while the total number of Croatian citizens living in Switzerland stood at a far higher 28,583. The number of new work permits that Switzerland is willing to grant to Croatian citizens by 2021 is limited to a mere 2500.
Upon the initiative of Croatian MP in the European Parliament Željana Zovko (HDZ), back in March, the European Parliament called on Switzerland, by a special resolution, to lift its barriers on Croatian workers, which was obviously unsuccessful. The Swiss National Party (SNP) remains committed to continuing the restriction of access to the Swiss labour market for Croatian citizens.
One million and 400,000 workers from the European Union (of which Switzerland is not a member) currently work there, and another 320,000 from the EU come to work in Switzerland every day. On the other hand, 460,000 Swiss nationals are employed by one of the EU member states.
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