Federal Council extends safeguard clause for Croatia

Press releases, 22.11.2023

At its meeting on 22 November, the Federal Council decided to extend for a further year the safeguard clause provided for in the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons for Croatian nationals coming to work in Switzerland. The number of new work permits for 2024 will remain at the same level as 2023.

The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) concluded with the EU provides for a phased opening of the Swiss labour market to Croatian nationals. Full freedom of movement was introduced on a trial basis in 2022, resulting in a sharp increase in the number of Croatian workers in Switzerland. The Federal Council therefore unilaterally activated the safeguard clause provided for in the AFMP from 1 January to 31 December 2023 and reintroduced permit quotas for Croatian nationals.

Between January and the end of October, Switzerland issued the entire quota of B permits (i.e. 1,204 permits, valid for five years) and 76 per cent of the available 1,053 L permits (i.e. short-term permits, renewable beyond twelve months) for 2023. Given the high demand for permits this year, the Federal Council has decided to extend the safeguard clause for a further year. In 2024, the number of permits issued to workers from Croatia will be capped at the same level as in 2023.

Extending the safeguard clause is in line with the protective measures that Switzerland has adopted in recent years for nationals of other countries that have joined the European Union. Under the AFMP, the safeguard clause can only be invoked for two consecutive years. Full freedom of movement for Croatian nationals will therefore come back into force again in 2025 on a trial basis. The transitional arrangements for Croatian nationals run over a period of ten years, until 31 December 2026.

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