Swiss insurers oppose immigration changes, Swiss Re head tells paper

FILE PHOTO: Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler of the world's second largest reinsurer Swiss Re addresses a news conference to present the company's full year results in Zurich, Switzerland February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd WIegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland’s insurance industry is against tightening the country’s immigration rules, a move that will be put to voters this year, Swiss Re Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler told Handelszeitung newspaper.

Mumenthaler is the latest business figure to lobby against the proposals, which could end freedom of movement between Switzerland and the European Union and wreck relations between Bern and Brussels if accepted.

The Swiss Trade Association has also spoken out against the referendum, launched by the right wing Swiss People’s Party, saying it could lead to dire shortages of skilled workers and problems for companies.

“The limitation initiative goes against everything we stand for,” Mumenthaler said in the interview to be published on Thursday, saying reinsurance worked best when risks were shared globally and experts from around the world could be employed in Zurich.

“We are strictly against this initiative,” he said, adding that this view was shared across the Swiss insurance industry.

If approved, the end of free movement could harm Switzerland’s delicate relationship with the European Union, the country’s biggest trading partner.

Reporting by John Revill