New system for immigration: Federal Council sets out steps towards implementation

Press Release, The Federal Council, 12.02.2014

Berne. The Federal Council took a number of initial decisions on Wednesday with regard to implementing the new constitutional provisions on immigration. The Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) will work with the Departments of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) to draw up an implementation plan by the end of June. A draft law will be presented by the end of the year. At the same time the Federal Council will hold exploratory talks with the European Union (EU) with a view to conducting negotiations on the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) and to clarify the situation with regard to other bilateral negotiations already under way.

Three days after the popular vote by the people and the cantons in favour of changing Switzerland's system of immigration, the Federal Council has conducted an appraisal of the situation and defined the next steps in terms of how to proceed. Over the coming weeks and months the Federal Council will continue to work intensively on implementing the new immigration system, successively clarifying open questions and striving to achieve the best possible solutions in terms of domestic and foreign policy.

The new constitutional text requires the Federal Council to introduce a new admissions system for all foreign nationals within three years. This means renegotiating the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) and adapting it to Switzerland's new immigration system. The AFMP remains in place until such time as a revised version enters into force or notice of termination is given.

Implementation plan by June

At its meeting the Federal Council concluded that an implementation plan would be needed as a basis for the necessary legislative work. It is also a prerequisite to be able to take up negotiations with the EU. Exploratory talks will be held in the meantime.

The FDJP will draw up the plan in conjunction with the FDFA and the EAER and submit it to the Federal Council by the end of June. A draft law should be completed by the end of the year. The FDJP will also draft the necessary implementing ordinances. These ordinances could be applied, if necessary, in the event that the legislative process is not completed within the stipulated timeframe. The new constitutional text grants the Federal Council the competence to regulate the new immigration system on a temporary basis by way of ordinance.

Negotiations on the AFMP

In parallel to work at the legislative level the FDJP, together with the FDFA, will seek a meeting of the Swiss-EU joint committee on the AFMP so that the two sides can discuss the situation.

In the course of its work the FDJP, together with the FDFA, will also clarify whether the agreement to extend the freedom of movement to Croatia should form part of a renegotiation of the AFMP, or whether it should be settled in advance.

Bilateral strategy

In order to coordinate the timing and substance of the implementation process as best as possible, both internally and externally, the Federal Council commissioned the FDFA to take up contact immediately with the institutions of the EU and the member states. The members of the Federal Council will use their bilateral meetings in the coming weeks and months to that end.

The aim is to inform the EU and its member states about the ongoing work at domestic level. These contacts and exploratory talks should also serve to clarify the interests of both sides with a view to seeking negotiations.

Further information

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