Back in October, the Federal Council took a decision in principle concerning the popular initiative ‘Get us out of the dead end. Don't reintroduce immigration quotas!' (known as the Rasa initiative). The initiative seeks to overturn the results of the vote on 9 February 2014 and remove the provisions on immigration (Art. 121a and Art. 197 no. 11) from the Federal Constitution, without substitution. The Federal Council rejects the initiative and argued in favour of a direct counter-proposal, saying it would determine the contents of the counter-proposal once Parliament had taken a decision on implementing the article on immigration.
Stable relations with the EU
The Federal Council believes that Switzerland needs to maintain good and stable relations with the EU and therefore the bilateral agreements should remain in place. However, it recommends rejecting the Rasa initiative because it wishes to retain the mandate for controlling immigration, despite the fact that immigration is falling. In particular, the Federal Council remains committed to making better use of and promoting the domestic workforce.
On 16 December, the Federal Assembly passed the act implementing Article 121a of the Federal Constitution. This act is compatible with the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) with the European Union (EU), but does not fully implement the article on immigration in the Constitution. The Federal Council believes that Parliament's decision to take account of the bilateral agreements in controlling immigration from the EU should also be reflected in the Constitution. Voters should be given a say on this.
Control of immigration under the bilateral agreements
At its meeting today, the Federal Council discussed a number of options and instructed the Federal Department of Justice and Police to draw up a consultation draft for two versions of a direct counter-proposal to the Rasa initiative. Its aim is to enable a wide-ranging discussion. In both versions, the mandate for controlling immigration is retained in the Constitution. Both versions also guarantee the continued existence of the bilateral agreements.
In the first version of the counter-proposal, Article 121a para. 4 of the Federal Constitution would be replaced by a provision stipulating that control of immigration should take account of international treaties that are of fundamental importance to Switzerland's position in Europe. This version acknowledges the fact that the Swiss people have approved the bilateral approach several times at the ballot box. In addition, the transitional provision to Article 121a of the Constitution (Art. 197 no. 11) would be deleted.The second version would see the transitional provision to Article 121a of the Constitution (Art. 197 no. 11) deleted. However, Article 121a would remain unchanged. This would reflect the fact that Parliament has passed an act that moves in the general direction of the article on immigration but without resolving the conflict of law. The deletion of the transitional provisions leaves open the possibility of taking further steps to implement Article 121a of the Constitution at a later date by amending the AFMP.
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