Croatian Citizens Can Enter Switzerland Without Passport from Midnight

Lauren Simmonds

As of tomorrow, Friday 11th March 2016, citizens of Croatia can travel to Switzerland with just an identity card.

According to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Switzerland is also actively working on the equalisation of Croatian citizens with rights that citizens of other European Union member states currently hold in Switzerland.

This step was taken as part of the resolve of a rather long standing issue regarding solving the overall status of Croatian citizens in Switzerland, an agreement was reached and as of tomorrow, the formerly compulsary law that states entry can only be granted with a passport will be abolished for Croatian citizens. This allows Croatian citizens who travel for tourist purposes the right of entry to the territory of the Swiss Confederation with merely a valid identity card. This right is valid for entries of up to 90 days in any period of 180 days a year.

After the signing of the Protocol to the Agreement between the EU Member States and the Swiss Confederation on free movement of persons being extended to the Republic of Croatia, the next step is ratification or approval of the same in the prescribed parliamentary procedure of the Swiss Confederation.

Confirmation of the Protocol will provide Croatian citizens with equal status with the citizens of other EU member states who already enjoy certain privileges, with the agreed transitional periods. Among other things, this step should lead to an increase in the quota of 50-450 annual and short-term work permits. It has been stated by various official bodies that it is a priority task of the ministry and therefore takes a systematic bilateral dialogue with the Swiss side, with concurrent proactive involvement of European institutions to ensure continued support for an amicable resolution for all. It is predicted that this will be enforced before February 2017.

It is currently very difficult for Croatian citizens to find work in Switzerland. The current problem with the right to free movement of Croatian workers in Switzerland was created after the Swiss referendum in 2014, where a decision was made to complicate the employment of EU citizens who seek employment in Switzerland. Faced with such results of the referendum, the Swiss authorities in February this year refused to extend its agreement with the EU on the free movement of workers, and therefore refused to be softer on Croats. The European Commission has stepped up its game in Croatia’s defence and the defence of European law on freedom of movement, and has temporarily suspended the negotiations on the full participation of Switzerland in the European educational and research programs such Horizon 2020, which is worth billions of euros.

The Swiss Federal Council subsequently said it would issue a very limited number of short-term one-year work permits for Croatian citizens. The European Commission has welcomed the move, but it is not considered a long-term solution.

While it is not impossible for Croats to obtain legal residency and a work permit in Switzerland under current laws, the conditions to do so are extremely complex and very demanding which is why so many are put off. The entire process of applying for, and obtaining a work permit goes exclusively through an employer, that’s if one is lucky enough to find one. This process is usually avoided by Swiss employers due to monetary issues and except from exceptional solutions, most prefer to employ someone else.

As new steps are taken, new hopes are born for Croats hoping to travel to Switzerland for both business and pleasure.


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