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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 Friday

Same-sex marriage becomes legal, the number of Covid cases is underestimated, and other news from Switzerland on Friday.

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

Same-sex couples can marry — at last

Today, July 1st, is a historic day for gay couples wishing to wed: they finally have that right in Switzerland.

After the Swiss voted to legalise same-sex marriage in a nationwide referendum on September 26th, 2021, the new law is entering into force today.

These couples will also be able to convert their registered partnership — which did not provide the same rights as marriage, including for obtaining citizenship and the joint adoption of children — into a legal marriage.

READ MORE: Same-sex couples can marry from July 1st in Switzerland

Other laws and rules that are being implemented from July 2022 are detailed here:

Everything that changes in Switzerland in July 2022

Number of current Covid cases in Switzerland is underestimated

This week, 33,108 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Switzerland in a span of seven days, an increase of 34 percent over the previous week.

However, health officials believe the real number of new infections is much higher. That’s because, judging by how many antigen or PCR tests have been done during this period of time, only a small portion of the infected population actually gets screened; most positive cases are therefore not detected.

Swiss health officials already said that 15 percent of Swiss population — more than 1 million people — could catch the Omicron virus (or its sub-variants) this summer.

On the positive side, “the situation is a little better” now than during the Delta variant wave, according to Tanja Stadler, former head of the Covid-19 Task Force, who also said that, despite the increase in cases, Swiss healthcare system will not be overloaded.

READ MORE: ‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

Heavy traffic on many Swiss roads this weekend

With several cantons beginning their school summer holidays this weekend, bottlenecks are expected to slow down traffic within Switzerland as well as on motorways and in tunnels leading to neighbour countries.

These roads are usually most congested during high-volume times like the start of holidays:

  • The A3/A1 Basel-Zurich axis
  • The A3/A13 Zurich-Chur-San Bernardino-Bellinzona-Chiasso axis, particularly near Chur and the San Bernardino tunnel
  • Bern and surroundings (A1/A12/A6 interchange)
  • The A9 Lausanne-Montreux-Martigny-Brigue mainly near Lausanne and Montreux
  • The Martigny – Grand-St.-Bernard tunnel axis

READ MORE: What you should know about driving in Switzerland — and abroad — this summer

Switzerland and France will be linked together

A bridge is to be built between Basel and Huningue, a town in Alsace – the first Rhine bridge connecting Switzerland and France.

On Thursday, Swiss officials, along with their counterparts from France, and Germany — the two countries that border Basel —signed an agreement for the project to start in 2025, and unveiled the plans for the new connection across the river.

“A new bridge over the Rhine is central to growing together and mobility in the three countries”, officials said.

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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