An article in Thelocal.ch says that negotiations on the new draft EU-Swiss deal were spurred by the 2014-2017 Swiss imposition of immigration quotas. (The dates refer to the decision(s), not to the time extent of the quotas, a few of which are still in force.)

However, main back and forth seems to center on the details of the Swiss preemption in "at-risk" jobs:

the deal also sees the EU making concessions in this regard. Switzerland could continue to demand foreign-based firms give advance notice of the posting of foreign workers to Switzerland in at-risk sectors (such as construction). However, the current eight calendar day notice period would be reduced to four working days.

(Of course, no Swiss job, no right to reside in Swiss, just visiting rights; so this is a "backdoor quota" on residency if you want to call it that.)

But does the draft Swiss-EU deal contain any explicit provisions on immigration quotas?

N.B. The draft deal seems to have popular support although some parties have expressed reservations. But I'm guessing that the answer to my immigration quota question is "no" because the draft deal seems to have only "reluctant support" among the Swiss

But gfs.bern noted that Swiss voters only “reluctantly” support the proposed deal on the grounds it would ensure the Swiss economy remained strong in the future.

If given the choice, however, the top choice among Swiss voters would be for the current system of bilateral relations to remain in place. The second most-favoured option would be a simple free trade agreement between Switzerland and the EU.

The draft deal then comes in third in order of preferences among voters.

Aside: The Swiss have adopted a quota for UK citizens in case of "disorderly" Brexit: 2,100 residence permits and 1,400 short-term (<1 year) permits for the first year (presumably this will updated every year).

  • 1
    "Of course, no Swiss job, no right to reside...": people who can support themselves without working can also reside in Switzerland indefinitely
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 1:37
  • @phoog: sure, but that doesn't seem an exception worth mentioning in this discussion. Lots of countries have "millionaire visas" that are a path to residency. Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 1:39
  • 2
    You don't have to be a millionaire to be able to live for a few years without working. But why wouldn't it be relevant? A German who wants to buy a house or rent an apartment in Switzerland is just as German as one who wants to work in Switzerland as a banker, a teacher, or a barber.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 1:49

1 Answer 1


On EU-Swiss free movement of people

In the EU free movement is allowed per the Citizen's Rights Directive, 2004/38/EC. Switzerland has a similar bilateral agreement with the EU. Article 10 paragraph 1 of that agreement states:

For five years after the entry into force of the Agreement, Switzerland may maintain quantitative limits in respect of access to an economic activity for the following two categories of residence: residence for a period of more than four months and less than one year and residence for a period equal to, or exceeding, one year. There shall be no restriction on residence for less than four months.

From the beginning of the sixth year, all quantitative limits applicable to nationals of the Member States of the European Community shall be abolished.

Per that last part, there are no quotas on nationals from the EU.

What changes with the Institutional agreement (InstA)

The Swiss government hosts a file entitled Institutional agreement between Switzerland and the EU: key points in brief, it summarizes what's in the draft deal. With respect to this question, section 6 on the free movement of persons is relevant. The section starts with:

The InstA applies to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), a market access agreement that is subject to the principle of the dynamic updating of the bilateral access agreements (cf. the section on developments in EU law). Nevertheless, the Federal Council sought exemptions from the adoption of EU law ('red lines') in three areas: the accompanying measures, the Citizens' Rights Directive (2004/38, CRD) and the amendment to Regulation 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems. The EU's position, in contrast, is that all operators in the single market must be subject to the same conditions ('level playing field') and that general exemptions are in principle unacceptable. It is furthermore the EU's view that the dispute settlement mechanism provided for under the InstA could be used to address and resolve any disagreements about the adoption of EU law on a case-by-case basis.

Only the second of those three (the Citizen's Rights Directive) seems relevant to your question and on that the section says the following:

Citizens' Rights Directive 2004/38 (CRD): from the Swiss perspective, the CRD does not constitute a further development of the free movement of persons (in the sense of the free movement of workers under the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons). Switzerland is therefore of the opinion that it does not have to adopt the CRD. Various provisions are especially problematic for Switzerland: in particular the extension of the entitlement to social assistance, the extension of the protection against expulsion (public policy exception), and the right of permanent residence for persons who have resided in the country for five years. The EU, for its part, considers that the CRD does constitute a further development of the free movement of persons.

The CRD is not mentioned in this draft agreement. The InstA thus grants Switzerland no explicit exemption in this respect. The EU did not insist that Switzerland explicitly commit under the InstA to adopt the CRD within a specific period of time, as it is required to do in relation to the rules governing the posting of workers. The dispute settlement mechanism provided for under the InstA would apply in the event of a disagreement with the EU as to Switzerland's adoption of the CRD. Should the arbitration panel rule against Switzerland, the terms of Switzerland's adoption, or partial adoption, of the CRD would have to be negotiated. If Switzerland were to still refuse to adopt the CRD, the EU could decide to take compensatory measures, which would have to be proportionate. (See Appendix I)

Considering that this is basically an executive summary of the agreement, it seems safe to say that there are no quotas in the agreement as those would have made it into the executive summary.

Therefore, the answer is: no, the new EU-Swiss draft deal does not contain explicit provisions on immigration quotas.

  • InstA is certainly an interesting way of kicking that (CRD) can down the road. Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 23:30

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