Free movement of people

Agreement on the free movement of persons for the EU and EFTA

European workers can work freely in the whole European territory. This is possible with the ALCP which covers the citizens of the EU member states. So what is the FMPA and what does it look like?

History and Membership Requirements

On June 21, 1999, the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (ALCP) was ratified between Switzerland and the European Union. This agreement was made to facilitate the residence and the working conditions in Switzerland of any citizen of the European Union. This right of free movement is granted in full to the person only under certain conditions including:

  • identification of diplomas
  • seizure of real estate
  • harmonization of social security systems

These regulations and conditions are also applicable to the member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

Who are its members?

The free movement of persons was agreed upon and implemented on June 1, 2002 for citizens of the former EU Member States (EU-15) and EFTA. Secondly, the 10 states that joined the EU on 1On 1 May 2004 (EU-8; Cyprus and Malta were spontaneously integrated into the regime applicable to the old Member States, which thus became the EU-17), they also agreed to this free movement of persons as of 1 May 2004.April 1, 2006. The Swiss population has accepted the renewal of the agreement. Its second protocol extended the scope of the agreement to Bulgaria and Romania since February 8, 2009. On June 1, 2009, these two new member states were also in acceptance of the agreement.

For many years, the people of the former EFTA countries, the EU, Cyprus and Malta (EU-17) have enjoyed the privilege of unrestricted movement. Since May 1, 2011, EU-8 nationals have the same degree of freedom which is also applied to all EU-25/EFTA states (EU-17 + EU-8 + EFTA). Bulgarians and Romanians were also suspended until May 31, 2016. The demands on Bulgarians and Romanians are in competition with the local market.

The Federal Council decided on April 18, 2012 to reintroduce permit quotas vis-à-vis Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic (EU-8). This decision is effective May 1, 2012. It is provisionally implemented over a period of one year and only applies to EU-8 citizen workers who are resident in Switzerland for a considerable period of time (not less than one year).

The Federal Council has authorized the use of the safeguard clause that is already included in the agreement on the free movement of persons. Therefore, if this is done in accordance with the agreement, this measure means that as of January 1, 2010,As of May 1, 2013, the B residence quota, i.e., the B residence allocation, which is a five-year permit granted to EU-8 nationals is maintained for one more year. This measure will extend from June 1, 2013. This will extend for one year the B residence permits granted to workers from the EU-17.

The benefits of this agreement

Thanks to the ALCP, the European labor market opens its doors to Swiss citizens. Switzerland also gives all European citizens the freedom to access the labor market. States that ratify these agreements agree to equal treatment. Moreover, the basis of this agreement is the equal treatment of all local and European workers. Equal treatment is detailed below:

  • The workers benefit from the same working conditions, including social security coverage and tax conditions,
  • Workers have the possibility to work as self-employed,
  • Workers have the right to be with their families
  • They have the possibility to stay in the country in case they are unemployed
  • They can access real estate.

Since May 1, 2011, Swiss nationals and the 25 EU member states share the same rights on the Swiss market. An employment contract is the factor that legalizes his rights in the Swiss territory by granting him a residence permit. In short, a European enjoys the same rights as a Swiss in the field of work. The Swiss only enjoy the same privilege in the territories of the 25 EU Member States since June 1, 2004.

What are the possible constraints?

The risks of wage dumping may arise. To avoid and control this, the Swiss government has taken precautionary measures by introducing accompanying measures since June 1, 2004. These measures control and ensure the respect of the ALCP as well as the working conditions for all workers without exception and avoid all forms of wage and social dumping. In case of risks of dumping, these accompanying measures give the authorities the possibility to take and apply sanctions and to set minimum working conditions in the non-agreed sectors. The canton of Geneva has put in place precautions to ensure the proper application of these accompanying measures. These precautions are placed under the authority of the social partners and the State (Office cantonal de l’inspection et des relations du bilateral section).

This agreement has already significantly reduced the unemployment rate of citizens of EU member states. As a result, the turnover of European companies is stabilized by this agreement.

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