Monday , September 28 2020
Home / Swissinfo
Swissinfo

Swissinfo

SWI swissinfo.ch – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, swissinfo.ch has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.

Articles by Swissinfo

Switzerland and UK balance sovereignty with EU market access

3 days ago

Britain’s controversial Internal Market Bill has prompted Switzerland’s former chief negotiator with the EU, Michael Ambühl, to examine the thorny issue of sovereignty in EU talks.
The issue of balancing access to the EU market in exchange for a degree of EU regulatory intrusion on home turf has come to the fore during the ongoing Brexit negotiations. The British government is trying to enact new legislation, the Internal Market Bill, that could limit the ability of Brussels to impose EU market regulation on UK territory.
The currently debated bill (if adopted) would also contravene international law – but that is another story.
Switzerland and the EU are also currently involved in negotiations to define new framework conditions (“institutional agreement”) for

Read More »

Parliament clarifies federal government powers to manage Covid-19 crisis

4 days ago

The federal government will have more power to approve vaccines and treatments for Covid-19. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer
Measures put in place by the federal government to help manage the coronavirus crisis can be officially extended thanks to a decision by parliament.
On March 13, the federal government assumed some executive powers that allowed it to enact certain laws and measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. With the unanimous decision on Wednesday, parliament assured that the measures don’t expire six months later.
The measures can now be extended until the end of 2021. This concerns above all financial support for workers and companies suffering as a result of coronavirus restrictions.
Businesses hard hit by the pandemic restrictions, particularly in

Read More »

WEF Davos conference in doubt for 2021

5 days ago

Davos has hosted thousands of political, business and civil society leaders for 50 years. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) flagship summit may not take place in Davos next year, businesses in the alpine town have been warned. The pandemic had already forced organisers to postpone the event from its usual January slot to a potential early summer date.
But hoteliers in Davos, the alpine resort that has hosted the global conference for the past 50 years, have received a letter casting doubt on whether WEF 2021 will take place there at all next year. The Südostschweiz newspaper broke the story which was confirmed to the news agency Keystone-SDA.
A WEF spokesman told swissinfo.ch that it was not “communicating on this topic for the time

Read More »

‘Switzerland failing to tackle money laundering’: Thelesklaf

6 days ago

The public examines some of the 25 luxury cars seized by canton Geneva during a money laundering probe into Teodoro Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s President – but such seizures are rare, according to Thelesklaf. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron
The former head of Switzerland’s anti-money laundering office says the country is failing to pull its weight in the fight against large scale corruption. Daniel Thelesklaf is convinced that billions of dollars are still being laundered through Swiss banks, largely unchecked.
Speaking to the Tages Anzeiger newspaper, Thelesklaf said: “Our entire set of instruments for combating money laundering is failing”. He accused Switzerland of lacking the political will to tackle the global problem.
Thelesklaf resigned as head of

Read More »

Do the WTO and the 1972 Free Trade Agreement guarantee Swiss access to the EU market?

8 days ago

It is a bilateral agreement on agriculture signed in 1999 – and not the 1972 Free Trade Agreement – that lifted duties and quotas for Swiss-made cheese destined for the EU market. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer
The authors of a popular initiative to limit immigration to Switzerland from the 27-nation European Union say a “yes” vote will not affect Swiss businesses’ access to the EU market. A fact check shows the claim to be misleading.
Opponents to the Swiss People’s Party initiative have warned that the small Alpine country would lose access to the EU market – the destination for just over half of all Swiss exports – if the proposal is voted through on September 27.
That, they say, is because ending the free movement of people between the two partners – as the

Read More »

Paternity Leave: ‘Nobody is talking about the indirect costs’

9 days ago

Yasmine Bourgeois, a member of the Zurich city parliament for the centre-right Radical-Liberal party. swissinfo.ch
Switzerland doesn’t need two weeks of paternity leave, says Radical-Liberal politician Yasmine Bourgeois. The mother of three says if the proposal is accepted on September 27, left-wing groups will keep asking for more and more.
As a mother who is not only against paternity leave but who is a member of the opposition committee, Yasmine Bourgeois is something of an outlier in the current campaign. And she has met with some hostility because of it. While her personal circle backs her, the Zurich politician says she is seeing some “pretty heated comments” on social media.
Within her centre-right Radical-Liberal Party, meanwhile, debate on the issue has

Read More »

Toxins found in popular Swiss tourist spot

10 days ago

The Blausee is one of the most popular mountain lakes in Switzerland Keystone
Carcinogenic toxins have seeped into the groundwater at the Blausee in the Bernese Oberland, killing thousands of fish, say the owners of the lake’s fish farm. They point the finger at companies renovating the Lötschberg summit tunnel and the authorities.
Groundwater measurements at the gravel works near Blausee had shown that the concentration of so-called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, some of which can cause cancer) were 424,000 times the limit value, said Stefan Linder, one of the Blausee owners.
Speaking at a press conference in Bern on Thursday, Linder said further results from water samples taken from the gravel pit also showed high excess values for heavy metals such as

Read More »

Merger rumours boost UBS and Credit Suisse shares

12 days ago

Will UBS and Credit Suisse, here in Zurich’s Paradeplatz, become more than neighbours? Keystone
Shares of Credit Suisse and UBS moved to the top of SMI stocks on Monday morning after a media report said the Swiss banks were planning a merger.
The chairmen of UBS Group and Credit Suisse Group were exploring a potential merger to create one of Europe’s largest banks, wrote Inside Paradeplatz, citing unidentified people inside the two lenders.
The project, nicknamed Signal, is being driven by UBS Chairman Axel Weber, who is working on it with his counterpart at Credit Suisse, Urs Rohner, the Swiss finance blog said. Weber has discussed the idea with Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer and an agreement could happen by early next year, according to the report.
A merger

Read More »

Swiss wind power held up by legal challenges

12 days ago

The gentle ridges of the Jura mountain range are suitable for the installation of wind turbines (here the Mont-Crosin park, in the Bernese Jura), but most projects are now at a standstill. © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott
For a decade, wind energy in Switzerland has been stalled. Opponents have used every possible means to stop projects. At the end of September, one community will vote on the future of this kind of energy.
Power derived from wind is already contributing 20% to the German energy mix. But unlike its northern neighbour, Switzerland does not have extended, empty, flat surfaces of territory.
Made up of slopes and valleys, the Swiss landscape does not lend itself to the installation of turbines. Critics of wind power are keen to point this out. But the

Read More »

Swiss Tourism Industry demands new Covid-19 Quarantine Regime

14 days ago

Swiss Tourism IndustryWith only three months to go before the start of the winter season, the de facto holiday ban for guests from certain high risk countries is causing huge concern for the Swiss tourism industry. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott – Click to enlarge
Foreign visitors from Covid-19 high risk countries should be able to travel to Switzerland with negative corona tests and not have to go into quarantine, say tourism officials.
Under Swiss regulations, anyone entering Switzerland from one of the high risk coronavirus countries on a list regularly updated by the Federal Office of Public Health must go into quarantine for ten days to help curb the spread of Covid-19, or risk a fine.
With only three months to go before the start of the winter season, the

Read More »

Credit Suisse makes digital push as it closes down branches

14 days ago

Switzerland’s second largest bank is replacing bricks and mortar with digital. Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse is taking on so-called challenger banks with a new digital service for customers, including a debit card with no foreign transaction fees. The bank is closing down branches across Switzerland and is converting others into a “digital bar” concept.
Switzerland’s second largest bank unveiled its new CSX banking app on Thursday with specific features aimed towards younger clients. It is part of a wider drive, announced in the summer, to save costs and address a trend towards digital banking.
Part of Credit Suisse’s strategy to save CHF100 million ($109 million) involves closing down 35 of its 146 bank branches in the country. This follows a trend of branch

Read More »

No wave of coronavirus bankruptcies so far, study finds 

15 days ago

Many employees were put on short time work during the lockdown as companies were hit by the pandemic. Keystone / Magali Girardin
Government credits and employment support measures have helped stave off a wave of bankruptcies, but they could rise over the longer term, says a survey.
Between January and August 2020, which includes the lockdown period, 2,800 firms in Switzerland declared bankruptcy. This is actually 621 fewer than in the same period last year, says the study by the Swiss association of creditors Creditreform.
The association’s experts put this down to government support measures such as emergency interest free loans for companies hit by the crisis and employment support such as short time working subsidies. But they warn of a possible rise in

Read More »

Pandemic speeds up push to digital as bank branches close

17 days ago

Bricks and mortar is being replaced by digital code in the banking sector. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
Swiss lender Credit Suisse is set to launch an overhaul of its digital banking offering, as it uses the coronavirus crisis as a springboard to accelerate the push from bricks-and-mortar branches to online services.
Last month the bank confirmed plans to close a quarter of its 146 domestic branches by the end of the year. This would lead to SFr100m ($108m) of savings a year by 2022, some of which will be invested in digitisation.
Online banking has grown 40 per cent at the Swiss lender in the past two years, while mobile banking has more than doubled. The number of visits to branches has been declining for years. “The Covid-19 crisis has further accelerated

Read More »

Valcambi refinery denies sourcing ‘dirty’ gold from Dubai

18 days ago

Valcambi says it is cooperating with NGOs in Peru (picture shows an area in the Madre de Dios province) to improve the working conditions of artisanal miners. Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
The Swiss-based Valcambi refinery has rejected accusations about gold dealings with a controversial company in the United Arab Emirates.
Chief executive Michael Mesaric said the claims by the non-governmental Swissaid organisation were unfounded.
In a report published earlier this year, Swissaid accused Valcambi of buying gold from the company Kaloti in Dubai which allegedly imported the precious metal illegally from mines in conflict-stricken areas on the African continent.
“These allegations are wrong,” Mesaric told the French-language daily Le

Read More »

Switzerland takes Belgium and Mexico off Covid-19 ‘high risk’ list

19 days ago

Mexico has recorded 634,023 coronavirus infections and 67,558 confirmed deaths, the world’s fourth highest death toll. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
People arriving in Switzerland from Belgium, Mexico and Luxembourg will no longer have to go into quarantine for ten days.
The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) on Monday updated its list of countries deemed to have a high risk of coronavirus infection and removed Belgium, Mexico, Luxembourg, El Salvador, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Oman.
But it added Croatia, French Polynesia, Guyana, Lebanon, Libya, Paraguay, San Marino, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates to the list of 55 high-risk countries.
Under Swiss regulations, anyone

Read More »

Rights activists want Swiss-Chinese trade deal to be overhauled

20 days ago

Human rights activists have called on Apple to cut ties with suppliers alleged to be using the forced labour of thousands of ethnic Uighurs in Chinese factories. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
Campaigners are urging the Swiss government to renegotiate a six-year-old free trade agreement with China to try to improve human rights and labour conditions for its Uighur Muslim minority.
On Monday, the Society for Threatened Peoples, the Swiss Uighur Association and Campax handed in a petition to the Federal Chancellery in Bern signed by 23,000 people demanding the renegotiation of the free trade deal with China.
“The current free trade agreement between Switzerland and China does too little to prevent forced labour products from reaching

Read More »

Ceneri Base Tunnel is officially open

21 days ago

Simonetta Sommaruga opening the Ceneri Base Tunnel on Friday Keystone
The Ceneri Base Tunnel has been officially opened, with the first freight train passing through the tunnel in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino shortly after 11:30am. Passengers will have to wait for the new national rail timetable in December.
“As a child I spent almost all of my holidays in Ticino […] the journey over the mountain, the Monte Ceneri, seemed to take an age,” Simonetta Sommaruga, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, said in her inauguration speech on Friday morning.
“Monte Ceneri separated many people here in this canton, not only geographically, but also socially. Now North and South are coming closer together. Instead of going over the mountain, we can

Read More »

Swiss regulator escalates probe into Credit Suisse

22 days ago

After appointing an auditor last December, FINMA decided to open so-called enforcement proceedings. © Keystone/Lukas Lehmann
The Swiss financial supervisor FINMA says it has opened enforcement proceedings against Credit Suisse into the 2019 spying affair that toppled the bank’s leadership and tarnished its reputation.
FINMA opened the proceedings after an auditor appointed last December completed its investigation of Credit Suisse, which has acknowledged surveillance activities against former wealth management boss Iqbal Khan (now at the rival UBS bank) as well as former human resources head Peter Goerke.
“FINMA … will pursue indications of violations of supervisory law in the context of the bank’s observation and security activities and in particular the

Read More »

Government exempts high-emission cars from Swiss climate goals

23 days ago

More than half of new vehicles registered in Switzerland are 4x4s. Keystone / Gaetan Bally
The Swiss government is easing the pressure on the automotive industry to reduce CO2 emissions, reports Sunday newspaper Le Matin Dimanche.
In its revision of the CO2 ordinance to mitigate global warming, the government had agreed to lower the limit on CO2 emissions to 95g/km from 2020. However, this year car importers can exclude 15% of the most polluting vehicles from their calculations, and 10% of them next year. The idea is to give struggling car dealers a break during what has been a difficult economic year.
The European Union is stricter in comparison. Its car importers can exclude 5% this year, and there will be no exemptions in 2021.
According to Swiss regulations

Read More »

High gold prices spur more illegal mining in Peru

23 days ago

A small section of La Pampa region in Peru being replanted after illegal miners deforested large swaths of the rainforest. Paula Dupraz-Dobias
The boom in gold prices during the Covid-19 pandemic has kept Swiss refineries in business but has also boosted illegal mining, imperiling lives and the environment.
Increased demand for the safe-haven metal has led gold prices to fluctuate in recent weeks around their highest levels since 2011. Mark Haefele, Chief Investment Officer at the Swiss bank UBS,  recently wrote that the metal has even more room to rally if geopolitical tensions rise. Between March and June, Switzerland, where around 60% of the global supply is refined, sent record volumes of gold to the United States to satisfy demand from investors.
However,

Read More »

Chinese-owned Swissport agrees emergency takeover

24 days ago

Swissport has been hit hard by the adverse impact of coronavirus on the aviation industry. Keystone / Stephanie Lecocq
A consortium of investors has agreed a €800 million (CHF860 million) bailout of Chinese-owned airport services company Swissport. Revenues at the company have nosedived since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The consortium of US and British private equity firms and banks will buy out the majority stake currently held by Chinese conglomerate HNA. The bailout will comprise a €300 million short-term cash injection to meet immediate financing needs followed by a €500 million package.
The deal will wipe €1.9 billion of debt from the company’s books. With air travel coming to a virtual standstill, Swissport saw sales fall by 70% between March and

Read More »

Doubts over EU regulations deal raise prospect of higher City costs

July 14, 2020

London’s financial district. Britain and the EU are negotiating financial regulation post-Brexit, with Switzerland caught in the middle. Keystone / Hannah Mckay
On a Monday morning, just over a year ago, investment firms across the EU found they were no longer allowed to trade on the Swiss stock exchange. It happened almost overnight — simply because Brussels refused to extend a regulatory “equivalence” deal with Switzerland, which gave each side free access to the other’s markets.
This looks increasingly similar to the situation Britain could end up in next year, experts say, judging by the latest language coming from Boris Johnson’s government.
Ever since negotiations began on a post-Brexit trade deal, it has been the UK position that it wants a stable agreement

Read More »

Credit Suisse settles U.S. shareholder lawsuit 

July 13, 2020

Keystone / Walter Bieri
Major Swiss bank Credit Suisse has agreed to pay $15.5 million (CHF14.6 million) to settle a dispute with shareholders in the United States, according to court filings on Friday.
The plaintiffs, led by four pension funds, accused Credit Suisse of defrauding shareholders about its risk appetite and management before taking $1 billion of writedowns on souring debt.
The bank had boasted at the time of “comprehensive” risk controls and “binding” limits on its exposure to risky and illiquid debt, according to Reuters news agency. Credit Suisse denies any wrongdoing.
The preliminary settlement of the proposed class action by holders of the Swiss bank’s American depositary receipts from March 2015 to February 2016 requires approval by a federal

Read More »

Tour group blames coronavirus for 70 Swiss job cuts 

July 10, 2020

The Swiss travel and tourism sector has been hard hit by the effects of the coronavirus crisis. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
German tour operator TUI is to close eight of its 62 branches in Switzerland with the loss of around 70 jobs, owing to the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
“We are assuming we will organise around 70% fewer trips than originally planned this summer,” says TUI Switzerland’s managing director Philipp von Czapiewski in a press release on Wednesday.
The six Swiss branches in question, all in German-speaking Switzerland, will be closed by the end of September. According to the company, the resulting 70 job cuts will be implemented as far as possible through measures such as early retirements or reductions in working

Read More »

Inside Geneva: World trade at a crossroads

July 9, 2020

In this episode of our Inside Geneva podcast, we look at the role of the World Trade Organization as it chooses a new leader amid challenging times.
Every country has to trade: to sell goods, and to import others that aren’t produced at home. But who makes the rules around trade? Host Imogen Foulkes is joined by former World Trade Organization (WTO) official Peter Ungphakorn, former Reuters correspondent and trade journalist Tom Miles, and analyst Daniel Warner, to look at what the WTO can do, and what it can’t.
For more insights and discussions from Switzerland’s international city, subscribe to Inside Geneva on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.[embedded content]

You Might Also Like

New

Read More »

New Geneva platform to ‘anticipate societal changes’ 

July 9, 2020

World leaders have been addressing an online international summit on jobs and Covid-19. Keystone / Sandra Steins
A new international platform is to be launched in Geneva to anticipate the effects of societal changes amidst the Covid-19 crisis, Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga said on Wednesday.
Switzerland is supporting this initiative and calls on states to help the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the face of the current jobs crisis, she added.
The new platform, Thinking ahead on Societal Changes (TASC), aims to bring together the expertise of governments, international organisations, the private sector, associations and civil society to anticipate changes in society, Sommaruga told an ILO online summit on Covid-19 and employment.
Only the

Read More »

Travel destinations seek tourists, but not the crowds

July 8, 2020

In recent years locals in Lucerne have protested against overtourism in their city. © Keystone / Alexandra Wey
Some popular travel destinations have enjoyed the break – however temporary – from tourist crowds following Covid-19 restrictions. Others hope the hordes will return soon.
Switzerland had not yet opened its border with Italy when its southern neighbour unexpectedly announced that Swiss citizens could enter the country starting on June 3. A day later, Sylvain and Anastasia Nicolier, who live in Lausanne, crossed the border at the Great St Bernard Pass.
“When I heard on the news that the border with Italy was open again, I asked my wife if she wanted to go to Venice,” says Sylvain. “We set out the next day with our two-month-old daughter.”
The crossing went

Read More »

Motorway station supplier goes into liquidation

July 7, 2020

Lekkerland supplied some 2,700 retailers in Switzerland. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
A company that supplies Swiss motorway service stations and convenience stores has gone into liquidation after failing to find new investors. Some 144 jobs at Lekkerland Switzerland are now at risk of disappearing by the end of the year.
The company on Monday said it was concentrating on finding new suppliers for the 2,700 stores that it currently services. It is also making social arrangement for its employees, including trying to find them new positions elsewhere.
A spokeswoman told the AWP news agency that an investor had pulled out of a financing deal at the last minute, meaning the company could no longer hope to survive beyond the end of this year.
Lekkerland will

Read More »

Swiss sustainable finance: world leader or wishful thinking?

July 6, 2020

Defining the exact nature of sustainable finance and measuring its performance is an ongoing process. Keystone / Guillaume Horcajuelo
The Swiss financial centre wants to take a lead in ethical investing. NGOs, however, fear the banks are more interested in cashing in than saving the planet. One thing everyone agrees on is the need for a universal definition of sustainable finance and measures to oversee the sector.
Sustainable finance invests in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The objective is to help bankroll the global eradication of poverty, inequality, conflict and environmental degradation.
“The Swiss financial centre is a pioneer of sustainable

Read More »

New cars on Swiss roads failed to meet emissions targets

July 5, 2020

Queuing up near Vevey on Lake Geneva. © Keystone / Cyril Zingaro
Fuel consumption and emissions limits for new cars in Switzerland missed their target in 2019 for the fourth year in a row. This resulted in sanctions totalling CHF78 million for car importers.
Last year, the 314,000 new cars registered in Switzerland spat out CO2 emissions of about 138.1 grams per kilometre, a rise of 0.2% on 2018, the Federal Office for Energy said on Thursday.
This means new cars have overshot their emissions targets of 130g per kilometre every year since goals were set in 2015. As a result, car importers were hit with sanctions of CHF78.1 million ($82.7 million), money paid to the Swiss fund for national roads and traffic (FORTA).
The energy office said that the increase last

Read More »