Switzerland’s Government Says It’s Against a Population Cap

(Bloomberg) -- Switzerland’s government has come out against a proposal to cap the country’s population at 10 million, saying it jeopardizes economic growth and security.

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The country is due to hold a national vote on the proposal — which is backed by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party — after campaigners gathered enough signatures in support. The timing of the plebiscite, part of Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, isn’t known, though it’s unlikely to take place for a number of years.

The popular initiative, called the “Sustainability Initiative,” would limit the population to 10 million, compared with about 8.9 million currently. It proposes curbing population growth if that threshold is approached, by limiting immigration especially from asylum seekers.” On Wednesday, the government warned that it would have a “negative impact on the economy, prosperity and the functioning of society.”

Earlier this week, a report said Swiss businesses have benefited from being able to easily tap foreign workers. The economy “depends heavily” on workers from abroad, it said, not only for skilled jobs in health, technology and science, but also for hospitality, construction and manufacturing.

The government also said the initiative threatens relations with the European Union. Switzerland is in talks with the bloc about a new deal aimed at updating a host of sectoral agreements. In a separate statement, it said negotiations have made progress in a number of areas but there are still gaps on the issues of immigration and wage protection.

(Updates with timing of any vote in third paragraph, comment on EU talks)

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