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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Wednesday it regretted the decision by Switzerland to limit Bulgarian and Romanian citizens' access to the labour market for the next 12 months.
"Today the Federal Council decided to invoke the clause allowing for quantitative limitation of the free movement of persons with respect to the new long term residence permits for the citizens of Bulgaria and Romania," a spokeswoman said.
"The Protocol to the Agreement foresees the possibility to use the clause for a period of 10 years after the entry into force of the Protocol, as was done in the past for other Member States. The Commission regrets this decision in light of the overall decreasing trend in the number of requested residence permissions by EU citizens," she said.
Free movement of workers between Switzerland and the European Union is largely guaranteed through bilateral agreements, although a so-called "safeguard clause" allows for limits like those being adopted by Switzerland if the number of people arriving exceeds certain levels.
Reporting By Jan Strupczewski