Montag, 20. April 2015

Q is for Quotas

In 2014, there were two immigration referenda "against mass immigration"that lead to prickly relations with the European Union. Previously, (and as eluded to in the Ö entry), immigration had been a bilateral treaty between Switzerland and the European union. The national conservative Swiss People's Party (SVP) proposed backing out of the treaty in favor of limiting population growth from without and increasing population from within. (But without the fun encouragement to procreate of other nations and other eras. Man some of those were funny.)
As of January 1st 2017, the quota for short-term (L) and long-term (B) work permits will each be reduced by 1,000 people. This means that L permits will be limited to 2,000 and B permits to 1,500 for citizens of an eastern European EU country (Romania and Bulgaria in particular.)
Up to 100,000 foreign nationals arrive in Switzerland annually and although the program won't be in effect until 2017, promises have been made that applications will be reviewed with more scrutiny straight away.
Swiss naturalization is a big deal. Children born in Switzerland are not given citizenship automatically. They have to be born to a swiss parent to get their shiny bright passport. As of 2014, foreigners must live in the country, in the same canton for at least 10 years (previously 12 years) before they can apply for citizenship. The person must be integrated, must show knowledge of the customs and traditions, and pose no threat to national or international security. Each Canton has it's own requirements and will make the final decisions for or against citizenship.
Despite how difficult it is to become a swiss national, apparently too many people are successful at it, so they voted to change the quotas and the EU was....displeased. In Switzerland's previous role, it'd been in negotiations with the EU about things like electricity and a common energy market. Negotiations haven't been officially halted (a consideration that was dramatically referred to as the Guillotine Clause. That's a clause that states that if one agreement is terminated, then the entire body of treaties will be nullified.) This wouldn't break down all transport between Switzerland and other EU countries, but it would "make life much more complicated" according to an EU official.
For anyone keeping count, I've physically been in Switzerland for 8 years, but officially have only been here 5 years this time (after a year abroad) and so still have 5 more years until I can apply for citizenship - perhaps. We shall see which new quotas are in place by then. 

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