Swiss upper house backs immigration bill avoiding EU quotas

December 1, 2016 5:50 AM EST

A Swiss flag is pictured next to the Jet d'Eau (water fountain), and the Lake Leman from the St-Pierre Cathedrale in Geneva, Switzerland, June 5, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo


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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss efforts to curb immigration from the European Union without provoking a clash with Brussels cleared another hurdle on Thursday when parliament's upper house backed giving locals first crack at open jobs rather than adopting outright quotas.

The step is roughly in line with a bill the lower house adopted in September, skirting a direct confrontation with the EU which has insisted on upholding the free movement of people, a key condition for enhanced Swiss access to the single market.

The two bills still need to be reconciled ahead of a final vote this month, but both stop well short of the upper limits and quotas on immigration that Swiss voters demanded in a binding 2014 referendum.

Just how the EU reacts to the Swiss legislation will be scrutinized for hints of what Britain might expect as it negotiates terms of its divorce after voting in June to quit the 28-member bloc.

(This version of the story corrects third paragraph to show final vote due this month, not next month)

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Toby Chopra)



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