23rd meeting of the Swiss-EU Joint Committee on Free Movement
Bern-Wabern, 22.10.2020 - Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the 23rd meeting of the Swiss – EU Joint Committee on the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) was held today by video conference. The delegations from Switzerland and from the European Union and its member states discussed various matters relating to the AFMP’s application and development. The two partners stressed the importance of their close cooperation in managing the public health crisis.
Switzerland was required to restrict entry to its territory for health and public safety reasons last spring. For the first time, it made use of Article 5 of Annex I to the AFMP, under which it can limit the rights granted by the Agreement. These restrictions applied until 15 June, at which point free movement was reintroduced with full effect. The two parties praised the close cooperation between Switzerland, the EU and its member states, which has proved a major asset in managing this crisis.
Rejection of the Limitation Initiative
Among the more significant events that have occurred since the last meeting of the joint committee in June 2019, the Swiss delegation highlighted that Swiss voters recently rejected the popular initiative ‘For moderate immigration' by more than 61%, thereby declaring their support for the bilateral approach. The latest developments on the institutional agreement between Switzerland and the EU were not, however, discussed.
Acquisition of real estate in Croatia now possible without restrictions
The delegations were able to resolve the difficulties Swiss nationals face in acquiring real estate in Croatia, a matter that has been raised several times by Switzerland in the Joint Committee. Following a change in practice by the Croatian authorities, Swiss nationals can now acquire real estate without having to prove a minimum stay in the country. The delegations welcomed the solution found to this difficulty
Revision of the annexes to the AFMP and questions relating to the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU
The delegations took stock of issues connected with the AFMP. Annex III, which relates to the recognition of professional qualifications, is currently being revised in order to incorporate the latest developments. In relation to Brexit, a new protocol on social security will be added. The aim here is to guarantee in relations between Switzerland and the EU the rights acquired or in the process of being acquired by British nationals.
Normally the Swiss and EU delegations meet once a year in the Joint Committee, to review matters relating to the application of the AFMP. The Swiss delegation was led by Cornelia Lüthy, Deputy Director of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), while the EU delegation was headed for the first time by Clara Ganslandt, Head of the Western Europe Division of the European External Action Service.
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