News that Switzerland is capping residence permits for Western Europeans reached the Monitor’s Europe bureau chief as she was having her own intolerable immigration experience.
The anti-immigration class across Europe has found many new adherents as of late, especially in the most economically devastated countries, like Greece and Italy. But now these Europeans might themselves become the unwelcome migrants, at least in Switzerland.
As I happened to be standing in the most intolerable immigration line that I’ve ever faced – more on that later – I read on my Twitteraccount that the Swiss government on Wednesday announced a new policy to cap residence permits for all of Western Europe. Switzerland, which is not part of the EU but joined the Schengen bloc that allows freedom of movement of people across European borders, says that it is being overwhelmed by arrivals from across the continent, to the tune of 80,000 people each year.
So it is invoking a “safeguard clause” it negotiated during the 1999 Schengen treaty talk, which it already implemented for eight Central and Eastern European states. Now, as of May 1, residence permits for the citizens of 17 older EU states, from Germany to Spain, will be capped at 53,700 for a year.
According to the EU Observer, the Swiss said that the million-plus EU residents who live in the country have “had a positive impact … in particular in terms of consumer spending and on the construction industry,” but that restrictions are “needed to make immigration more acceptable to society.”
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