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Cross-border workers People’s Party attacks mooted changes to EU unemployment law

(Keystone)

The People’s Party has called on its local chapters to organise initiatives against any eventual Swiss implementation of a new EU regulation that could require Bern to pay benefits to unemployed cross-border workers.

The conservative right party, which traditionally runs an anti-foreigner agenda, announced its opposition to the proposed changes in a press release on Saturday.

It was reacting to a proposed regulation approved by European Union (EU) social affairs ministers on Thursday that would require unemployment benefits to be paid by the country in which an individual works, rather than lives.

Currently, across the EU, it is the country of residence that pays jobless benefits and unemployment insurance to workers.

“It would not be acceptable that Switzerland should also pay unemployment benefit for cross-border workers,” said the People’s Party. “The costs associated with mass immigration […] are already much too high.”

Some 320,000 cross-border workers are employed in Switzerland and commute into the country to work. Many are concentrated in the border cantons of Geneva and Ticino, where the People’s Party said its campaign would be mostly aimed.

+ More about the issues and incentives for cross-border workers in Switzerland

Despite the political rumblings, however, it is not yet certain that the new rules would even be applied by Switzerland.

Some harmonization of regulation exists due to the implementation of the freedom of movement principle, yet the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs was quick to state this week that “such modifications of European law are not automatically taken on by Switzerland”.

At the European level, too, the system is not finalised. The dossier will be discussed by the European Parliament later this Autumn before a final compromise deal will be hammered out with the member states.

Luxembourg, in particular, is reluctant to back the deal; some 45% of employees in the small nation are cross-border workers.

SDA-ATS/dos

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