Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, made today the following statement:

Catherine Ashton

Catherine Ashton

“I regret the decision of the Swiss Government to continue the quantitative limitations adopted last year to the free movement of EU citizens who are nationals of eight Member States and to extend such restrictions to the nationals of the other Member States.

The Agreement allows the clause to be invoked for citizens of the 25 Member States* this year for the last time, provided that the number of residence permits issued in the last years for the nationals of these 25 Member States as a whole had reached the threshold. The measures adopted today by the Swiss Government are contrary to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons since they differentiate between groups of Member States.”

The EU attaches great importance to the free movement of persons in the overall context of its relations with Switzerland. These measures disregard the great benefits that the free movement of persons brings to the citizens of both Switzerland and the EU. I regret the decision of the Swiss Government to depart from the approach followed in 2008 and 2009 when the safeguard clause was not invoked despite the possibility offered by the Agreement.

*Except for Bulgaria and Rumania, still under transition period.

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