World Bulletin/News Desk
More immigrants from the European Union than ever before entered Switzerland in 2013, the year before Swiss voters backed a popular initiative to cap immigration from the bloc, a report showed on Wednesday.
A net 66,200 EU citizens emigrated to Switzerland last year but the highest number since free movement of people pact came into force in 2002, the State Secretariat for Economics (SECO) said in its annual report which examines the effect of the agreement on the Swiss economy.
More than 60 percent of them came to work, the SECO said. When immigration from non-EU countries is included the net figure stood at 88,000 people, it said.
Since the financial crisis in 2008 the number of workers coming from southern and eastern European member states has increased, the report also found. In the early years of the free-movement pact, the immigration balance was characterised by Germans coming into the country.
The SECO figures pre-date February's surprise vote in favour of imposing tighter immigration controls following a campaign which tapped into fears that Swiss culture is being eroded by foreigners, who account for nearly a quarter of the population.
The initiative, which passed by fewer than 20,000 votes, has deeply unsettled the Swiss business establishment and the SECO report found net immigration is closely linked to Switzerland's economic growth.
The EU intake in 2013 represented around 0.8 percent of Switzerland's roughly 8.1 million population.Last Mod: 09 Temmuz 2014, 12:34