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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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 Monday
Swiss and EU flags in front of the Parliament building in Bern. Photo by Christian Wasserfallen from Pexels

Will Switzerland have enough fuel next winter?

In view of uncertainties over gasoline supply linked to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Federal Council is taking measures to ensure sufficient quantities for next winter, especially as about half of the oil used in Switzerland comes from Russia.

And Switzerland is not part of the solidarity agreements within the EU for the reciprocal supply of gasoline in the event of an emergency.

Among measures being taken by the government is allowing various companies in the energy sector to make joint purchases and obtain additional storage capacity abroad, as Switzerland doesn’t have enough stocking capabilities.

Additionally, authorities want to accelerate local production of renewable energies to diminish the country’s dependence on imported oil, gasoline and electricity.

Switzerland has already been doing this “but too little has been achieved in the last ten years”, according to Simonetta Sommaruga, head of the Energy Ministry.

“It is now crucial to accelerate the pace of the transition”, she said.

READ MORE: Ukraine invasion: How reliant is Switzerland on Russia for energy?

Switzerland to activate a special entry procedure for Ukrainian refugees.

The Federal Council is opting to activate an “S” status for Ukrainians forced to leave their country. This status would allow them to come to Switzerland for more than 90 days — the current limit within the Schengen countries — and to obtain a right of residence in Switzerland without having to go through an ordinary asylum procedure.

The Federal Council will consult with the cantons on this proposal by the middle of this week before making a final decision.

As to the number of refugees expected to arrive, “we don’t know how many will still leave their country, nor how many will seek refuge in Switzerland,” said Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter.

“What we do know is that the numbers will increase significantly in the coming days”.

Most Swiss in favour of reaching a compromise with the EU

Relations between Switzerland and the European Union have been strained since May 2021, when the Swiss abruptly ended negotiations on framework agreements with the bloc.

However, according to a new poll by gfs.bern market research institute, 80 percent of Switzerland’s population is ready to make some concessions, such as adoption of the European law, as long as the right of referendum is not touched.

Similarly, 67 percent of respondents said they are open to accept the special arbitration panel to resolve Swiss-EU disputes and file appeals with the European Court of Justice, which has long been a contentious issue in Switzerland.

“For a majority of the population, the question of recourse to European judges is not considered as an insurmountable obstacle in relations with the EU”, according to Urs Bieri, co-director by gfs.bern.

READ MORE: Swiss call for ‘calm and creativity’ to fix rift with EU

Social Democrats demand probe of wealthy Russians in Switzerland

In order to better investigate the assets that Russian oligarchs are keeping in Switzerland, Social Democrats are calling for a creation of a special task force consisting of representatives of the Federal Department of Finance, the Federal Financial Market Supervisory Authority, the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Money Laundering Reporting Office.

“This is the only way to prevent, at least partially, the continued financing of the war from Switzerland”, the party said.

The party is also urging the review of residence permits granted to wealthy Russians, in particular special authorisations given to rich people without gainful activity in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Golden visas: Everything you need to know about ‘buying’ Swiss residency

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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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

From a solid approval of all the issues in Sunday's referendum to higher beverage prices: 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 Monday

The Swiss say ‘yes’ to three proposals in Sunday’s referendum

Voters in Switzerland have accepted all three of the Federal Council’s proposals, rejecting, at the same time, opponents’ arguments.

The law making organ donation opt out across the country was approved by 60.20 percent, providing more money and staff to controversial EU border protection agency Frontex passed with 71.48 percent, and Lex Netflix – which makes streaming services pay a percentage fee to support Swiss filmmaking – passed with 58.42 percent.

READ MORE: Swiss back ‘Netflix’ law and steer clear of ‘Frontexit’

Read about the reactions in Switzerland to the vote results in our article to be published later today.

Price of beverages is soaring in Switzerland

Another popular product is becoming more expensive: non-alcoholic beverages.

“The price of PET [bottle] is skyrocketing, and with it that of mineral water and soft drinks”, according to a report in 20 Minuten.

“And there is a risk of further price increases.”

For instance, prices per litre of mineral water are now 5 to 10 cents higher, depending on the retailer. 

Of the four major retailers that the newspaper surveyed — Migros, Coop, Aldi and Lidl — only Coop has not yet increased the price of beverages, although its spokesperson conceded the company “cannot currently rule out price adjustments,” due to higher cost of raw materials, the shortage of packaging material, and the increased transport and energy costs.

Beverages have joined a growing list of other everyday products whose prices have increased due to inflation and war in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Seven products that are becoming more expensive in Switzerland

Migros gets tough on “unscrupulous” customers

Due to a growing number of shoplifters, some self-service Migros stores in Zurich are installing special barriers allowing only those who pay for their purchases to exit the store.

Customers who pay at self-checkout terminals must now scan the QR code of their receipt to open a barrier and leave with their purchases.

This is a rather drastic measure, “as Migros and Coop have so far relied on individual responsibility and random checks”, according to Tagblatt newspaper.

Russians critical of the Putin regime want to remain in Switzerland

A number of Russian women in Switzerland, who have criticised the war on social media and are therefore afraid of repercussions from the Kremlin, are asking the Federal Council to grant them asylum.

“I can understand that these women are concerned,” said Ulrich Schmid, Professor of Russian Culture and Society at the University of St. Gallen. “It is possible that the Russian secret service reports on people who are critical of the war”.

Should Russian deserters and opponents of the war get asylum in Switzerland? MPs’ views diverge.

For a Green MP Balthasar Glättli, Switzerland should grant these war objectors humanitarian visas.

However, according to Thomas Aeschi from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), “Switzerland should treat all asylum seekers equally”, pointing out there are many people in other countries “who are also threatened”.

According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), Russians who remain in Switzerland can apply to their canton of residence to extend their existing residence permit. “It will be checked whether they meet the legal requirements for this”, SEM said.

READ MORE: Reader question: Do Russians now have to leave Switzerland?

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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