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Swiss Wish to Limit Lithuanians 25 April 2012

The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its dismay about the decision by the Swiss Government to re-establish limitations for certain categories of residential permits for specific EU citizens, including Lithuanians.

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This decision is in breach of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between the EU and Switzerland, and discriminates against the citizens of eight EU member states and is in fact discrimination between EU citizens.

Lithuania and Switzerland have generally enjoyed close political and economic cooperation, and the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry stated that it hopes the Swiss Government will reconsider its decision as soon as possible.

Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, also came down hard on the move, pointing out the Swiss – EU agreement allows it to restrict access to migrants from the entire European Union, but not for selected countries.

"This measure is neither economically justified by the labour market situation nor by the number of EU citizens seeking residence in Switzerland," Ashton said.

From 1 May Switzerland will only grant 2,000 permits for citizens from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary to live and work in Switzerland, compared to 6,000 permits which were allowed the previous year.

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