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Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
Franc is high against the euro. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

No surprise here: Switzerland got a bit more expensive

Swiss prices rose slightly  in August, according to new data published by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Figures indicate an increase of 0.2 percent compared to July, and of 0.9 percent over the past 12.months.

Prices went up in particular in rents, housing costs in general, as well as in air travel.

By contrast, medications and rental cars got less expensive.

READ MORE: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

Swiss franc climbs against the euro

An euro currently costs 1.08 francs.

However, the strength of the Swiss franc is controversial within the business and corporate world. For the Swiss National Bank (SNB), the Swiss franc is no longer “massively” overvalued, but is still “highly” valued, according to the current assessment.

That is the reason why the SNB has deliberately weakened the franc in recent years and was careful not to appreciate it too much within a short period of time.

That’s because a strong franc hurts Switzerland’s economy, which relies heavily on exports —  particularly pharmaceuticals, machinery, instruments, and watches. Over 40 percent of the country’s production is sent to its main trading partners in the European Union. 

But when the franc rises, it makes Swiss products less competitive — that is, too expensive — in eurozone markets.

No Covid certificate required for Swiss MPs

Members of the National Council and Council of States will be able to access the parliament building for the autumn sessions starting on September 13th without a Covid certificate, even if the immunity pass becomes obligatory by then.

The parliamentary services department justified this decision by saying that “a certificate access at political assemblies of the legislature is inadmissible, since the constitutional rights and obligations of council members and magistrates would be restricted too much”.

However, the administrative delegation continues to recommend that unvaccinated council members and session participants have themselves tested regularly.

As before, Covid-19 tests will be offered in the parliament building.

READ MORE: When will Switzerland decide whether to enforce the Covid certificate in restaurants?

Switzerland highlights its fish problem

There is apparently a problem in Switzerland — apart from the Covid pandemic — that has mobilised the government into action: the incorrect treatment of aquarium fish kept in private households.

Together with Swiss animal welfare organisation and fish protection associations, the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (BLV) has launched a campaign to raise awareness of Switzerland’s population about the right way to keep and treat the fish.

“Aquarium fish are sensitive, socially intelligent creatures capable of learning. Keeping them while respecting their needs is not easy: it is therefore necessary to have in-depth knowledge of the specific needs of the species, the quality of the water, the dimensions and the arrangement of the aquarium, the feeding and the socialization”, BLV said in a press release, urging aquarium owners to learn about the proper upkeep of their fish.

Residents asked to choose the form of the future electronic identity (e-ID)

From now until October 14th, Switzerland’s population has an opportunity to select their digital identification from among three possibilities offered by the government.

The first solution consists of “self-managed identity”, where the user has all the control, and data protection is ensured.

The second is based on a public key infrastructure. The system is already used by the government to secure passport data equipped with a chip. The data is decentralised, but must be transmitted in its entirety. In addition to the government, private companies from a controlled  group could also issue the e-ID.

The last possibility involves a  state-owned identity provider. Instead of several identity providers, public or private, only the government would be in charge.

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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For members


Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Heating with wood to become more expensive, redacted vaccine contracts, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Thursday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Heating with wood is starkly more expensive

It’s not only the prices for fossil fuels, oil and gas that have risen sharply in Switzerland. Even those who rely on alternative energies such as wood as a fuel currently have to dig deeper into their wallets, SRF reported.

The pellets made from pressed sawdust are 46 percent more expensive than a year ago. “In general, we can summarise that the increase is due to higher production costs,” said Peter Lehmann, President of the “proPellets” Association. In addition to processing, wood is also more expensive.

Last year, almost 50 percent more pellet-based heating systems were built than in 2020, which has increased the demand for pellets. However, Lehmann assumes that the price will not decrease in the medium term; wood as a raw material is too much in demand in the current situation.

READ ALSO: Five of the biggest challenges facing Switzerland right now

Swiss government publishes redacted vaccine contracts

After a long period of resistance, the Swiss government disclosed the vaccine purchase contracts. Before that, however, it had redacted them out extensively, Watson reported.

The authorities have kept it a secret even the duration of secrecy, so the Swiss won’t know how long it will take until they can see the complete contracts. The lack of transparency has brought on criticism against the government.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why vaccinations are not mandatory in Switzerland

Almost 10 percent of Ukrainian refugees have found jobs in Switzerland

A total of 9.4 percent of adults possessing a special “S” permit are working, with most employed in the restaurant sector, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said.

Nearly a quarter of them (23 percent) are active in the restaurant industry. In addition, 17 percent work in the “planning, consulting, IT” sector. Agriculture and education each account for 8 percent of those with the S status.

There are currently 61 424 status S applications in Switzerland, of which 59 411 persons have been granted S status, SEM said.

READ ALSO: 200,000 in 2022: Immigration fuelling Swiss population surge

Federal Council wants to decide on sanction policy in August

Switzerland’s Federal Council wants to discuss whether or not to adopt the so-called “thematic” sanctions of the European Union, Tagesanzeiger said.

These sanctions work differently than those imposed on a specific country. Instead, they allow measures to be taken against individuals, companies and organisations from different countries that violate certain rights. They are primarily concerned about violations regarding chemical weapons, cyber and human rights.

Specifically, in March 2021, the EU decided to sanction some persons, organisations and institutions from North Korea, Libya, Eritrea, South Sudan, Russia and China for serious human rights violations.

The controversial decision could lead to Switzerland sanctioning China, with Minister of Economic Affairs Guy Parmelin against adopting the measures.

READ ALSO: Switzerland bans imports of Russian gold