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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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 Thursday
Shameful waste: Too much food is being thrown out in Switzerland, government says. Photo by Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas from Pexels

Switzerland hasn’t expelled Russian diplomats — this is why

Since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24th, EU nations have expelled 260 Russian diplomats, as they are considered security threats. Switzerland, on the other hand, has not taken similar measures.

That’s because Federal Council “does not take sanctions in the form of the dismissal of diplomats”, government spokesperson André Simonazzi said on Wednesday.

The reason, he explained, is that “channels of communication with Russia must be maintained”, particularly due to Switzerland’s role as ‘protective power’ in favour of Georgia.

“In addition, the dismissal of diplomats could affect the functioning of our embassy in Russia, which would not be in the interest of the Swiss living there”, Simonazzi said.

READ MORE: Sanctions on Russia: Is Switzerland still a neutral nation?

Bern calls for reduction of food waste

Almost a third of the food produced for Swiss consumption — approximately 330 kg per inhabitant per year —  is thrown away, the government said on Wednesday.

This is happening even as the war in Ukraine is creating food supply problems.

“The current situation shows that it is important not to waste food”, authorities said, laying out an action plan to reduce food waste by half within the next eight years.

Among the proposed measures is extending the shelf life (sell-by date) of certain products, increasing donations of unsold food to charitable organisations, as well as optimising packaging size to avoid waste.

ETH Zurich is continental Europe’s top university

The Polytechnic University of Zurich (ETH) is the best school in continental Europe, reaching first place in three subjects, according to the new QS World University Rankings, released by the international higher education think-tank Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). 

It is also the eighth best worldwide among 1,543 universities surveyed.

Based on its top 10 share, Switzerland has the third best university system in the world, the study found.

Image: Quacquarelli Symonds

It is not the first time that ETH Zurich is ranked highly in international surveys. In September 2021, Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings placed the school in the first place in continental Europe and in 15th place (out of 1,600 surveyed) worldwide.

ETH is a public research university focusing exclusively on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

READ MORE: Why ETH Zurich has been ranked the ‘best university in continental Europe’

‘Solidarity pay’ to be abolished from next year

The ‘solidarity’ contribution paid by the people in the highest income bracket to unemployment insurance will be abolished in 2023, a spokesperson for the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) told Swiss media.

This system was introduced in 2011, when the unemployment insurance scheme was in debt and more money was needed to compensate for the deficit. While the normal deduction amounts to 2.2 percent of wages (1.1 percent paid by the employee and 1.1 percent by the employer), an additional percent, split between the two, has been deducted from gross wages of above 12,350 francs per month.

These highest earners, who constitute 10 percent of Switzerland’s workforce, will no longer have to shell out the extra money because unemployment insurance had now built up equity of 2.5 billion — a threshold that had to be reached before solidarity contributions could be discontinued.

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in 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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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

Fewer train connections in Switzerland, cheaper housing in Zurich and the rest of the news roundup on Thursday.

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

Coming soon: more affordable housing in Zurich

Rents are notoriously high in Switzerland’s largest city, but some relief is on the way.

Municipal authorities have successfully negotiated a barter deal with Welti-Furrer real estate company to offer a number of reasonably priced apartments in the Altstetten neighbourhood.

While the amount the flats are renting for was not published, Blick reports that the negotiations yielded “974 square metres of affordable living space to be rented out during 25 years”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How inflation is increasing housing costs in Switzerland

Swiss Federal Railways want to eliminate some train connections

In its draft timetable for 2023, the company (SBB ) proposes to reduce the number of trains circulating between some Swiss cities.

For instance, SBB is planning to do away with the trains departing from Bern at 7:10 am and 4:10 pm, and the departures from Zurich at 6:49 am.

Two morning connections on the Lucerne-Zurich route are also to be eliminated, along with come off-peak-hour trains in other parts on Switzerland.

However, the draft timetable for 2023 also provides for an expansion for the leisure traffic on weekends, including between Geneva and Chur.

New direct connections are also planned on the Romanshorn-Interlaken route. This means that the tourist destinations in the Bernese Oberland will be better linked to eastern Switzerland and the Zurich area.

Swissmedic to Moderna: It’s too early for second boosters

After Paul Burton, chief medical officer of the vaccine manufacturer Moderna, announced in the Swiss media this week that vaccines will have to be administered “year after year”, Switzerland’s drug regulatory body responded that second boosters are not yet planned in the country.

Swissmedic said that neither Moderna nor other vaccine manufacturers have submitted an authorisation request for a second booster in Switzerland.

In order for the process to get off the ground,the Federal Vaccinations Commission (FVC) will also have to issue a recommendation for the booster dose before it is given to all age groups.

For people over 65 or with chronic illnesses, this will likely be possible in the fall, according to FVC head. Christoph Berger.

READ MORE: Reader question: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?

Switzerland wants to speed up the purchase of American fighter jets

Although the decision to buy 36 US-made F-35A planes remains controversial, the Federal Council decided to accelerate the purchase.

With a number of other countries buying these fighter jets as well, the government is concerned there could be delivery delays. “In order for Switzerland to be able to protect its population from air threats beyond 2030, it must receive its first F-35As as early as 2027”, the Federal Council said in a press release.

Under the terms of the agreement, the offer is valid only until March 31st, 2023, but “the deterioration of the security situation prompts the Federal Council to want to fill the gaps in military capabilities quicker than expected”.
 
No specific date is given but it will be before the March deadline, authorities 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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