After two years of annual meetings held online, delegates finally met together in person in Brussels under Swiss chairmanship. In their discussions, both delegations agreed that the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) has worked well overall and highlighted key moments from the past twelve months that illustrated this. Looking back at twenty years since the AFMP came into effect, the Swiss delegation stressed that the AFMP has been constructive and beneficial for both sides.
Invoking the safeguard clause for Croatia from 1 January 2023
The Swiss side notified the EU side of the Federal Council’s decision of 16 November 2022 to invoke the safeguard clause for Croatia. This clause of the AFMP allows Switzerland to unilaterally, but temporarily, reintroduce quotas on the number of permits issued to nationals of a given country if immigration from that country exceeds a certain threshold. Therefore, from 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2023, restrictions will apply on the number of short-stay permits (Permit L) and work/residence permits (Permit B) issued to Croatian nationals.
Revision regarding the recognition of foreign professional qualifications
At the Swiss-EU Joint Committee meeting, the EU and Switzerland discussed the status of the planned revision of Annex III of the AFMP. Technical discussions are currently taking place. The revision of Annex III to the AFMP is intended to take into account the changes introduced in the EU's modernised Professional Qualifications Directive, such as the use of the existing Internal Market Information System (IMI) and Points of Single Contact (e-government portals) to facilitate online administrative cooperation between the competent authorities and a European professional card (in the form of an electronic certificate) to enable recognition procedures to be carried out entirely online; as well as an alert mechanism in the case of non-compliance with recognition requirements.
Taking stock of twenty years since AFMP came into force
The AFMP came into force on 31 May 2002. Both partners underscored the importance of the AFMP as part of the first package of Swiss-EU bilateral agreements, which are collectively referred to as the Bilaterals I. Overall, the AFMP has worked well. The free movement of persons has resulted in greater mobility throughout Europe, enabling Swiss and EU nationals to enjoy the right to live, work or study on each other's territory under certain conditions. At the Swiss-EU Joint Committee meeting, Switzerland stated that preserving and maintaining structured relations, as laid down in the AFMP, is beneficial to both sides and will remain a priority in the future.
Over the years, Swiss-EU Joint Committee meetings have helped to clarify issues that have a real impact on the lives and work of Swiss citizens in the EU and EU citizens in Switzerland.
The Swiss-EU Joint Committee usually meets once a year to discuss issues surrounding application of the AFMP. At this year’s meeting, the Swiss delegation was led by Cornelia Lüthy, Deputy Director of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). The EU delegation was led by Nicolas von Lingen, who serves as Head of Section for the EEA, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino (SG.H.3) at the Secretariat-General of the European Commission.
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