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

Closer ties with border nations, and a threat of electricity shortage: 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 Tuesday
Power outage is a possibility this winter. Photo: Pok Rie / Pexels

Swiss border regions seek closer cooperation with Europe

While relations between Bern and Brussels still remain strained after Switzerland walked out of negotiations with the EU last year, officials in Swiss border areas are eager to intensify mutual cooperation with neighbouring European regions.

For instance, in Geneva, which shares a border with France, “the development of relations between Switzerland and the European Union is a strategic issue”, said State Councilor Serge dal Busco, who is in charge of European issues at the cantonal level.

The Basel government has also announced it wants to strengthen ties with the nearby regions of Alsace in France and Baden-Württemberg in Germany.

Both cantons are closely linked economically with EU-member nations — not only though cross-border workforce employed in Switzerland, but also in regards to various common projects like transport infrastructure, and others.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who can work in Switzerland but live in a neighbouring country?

Electricity shortage “not excluded” in Switzerland

We already know that electricity prices are expected to go up in the near future.

Now we learn that electricity shortages “are not excluded” next winter, according to the Federal Electricity Commission (Elcom).

“Over the past 50 years, a power shortage has never been more realistic than now”, said Michael Frank, director of the Association of Swiss Electrical Companies.

If this were to occur, however, the  Organisation for Electricity Supply in Extraordinary Situations (Ostral) would activate an emergency plan to keep at least some electricity flowing, so “no one should panic”, said its director Lukas Küng.

READ MORE: Switzerland faces 20 percent increase in electricity costs

Disparities among cantons on the deportation of foreign criminals

Over the past three years, the deportation rate for foreign offenders has averaged around 60 percent, according to official data.

However, this figure varies greatly from one canton to another.

Geneva, for instance, expels the highest number of criminal foreigners (77 percent), because “the population of delinquents is very largely made up of people passing through who have no connection with Switzerland”, according to the canton’s Attorney General. Olivier Jornot.

In Neuchâtel, on the other hand, only 26.7 percent of convicts have been expelled as “it is our duty to apply this law with moderation”, said Attorney General Pierre Aubert.

He added that expulsion has to be waved when foreign criminals come from a country that does not take back its nationals.

However, the cantonal differences in expulsion could soon fade, since the Parliament has adopted a motion which seeks to reduce the flexibility the cantonal prosecutors have in this matter.

The legislation, approved in a referendum and introduced in 2016, stipulates that expulsion from Switzerland applies to foreigners who have committed serious crimes warranting at least a three-year prison sentence, including murder, rape, serious sexual assault, violent acts, armed robbery, drug trafficking and people trafficking, as well as abuse of the Swiss social security system.

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 Tuesday

Swiss workers need wage rises and rent prices rise in Zurich in the latest roundup of news from Switzerland on Tuesday.

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

Swiss workers should get wage increase of ‘up to 5 percent in 2023’

Trade Union Travail Suisse has demanded a general wage rise of between 3 and 5 percent for all workers in the country in 2023.

The rise would allow workers to cope with the rising cost of living in the country as well as to compensate workers for an increase in productivity.

Thomas Bauer an economist from Travail Suisse argues that Switzerland’s economy is in good health at the moment but workers have seen little benefit in terms of wage rises. They have only see prices rise and stress levels increase.

“That has to change urgently,” he said.

That argument was echoed by Johann Tscherrig from the Syna trade union who said: “All workers must get their fair share of the fruits of growth” as they work “to the maximum of their abilities”.

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Rent prices stable in July but increase in Zurich

Rent prices in Switzerland did not see an increase last month for the first time in a year, according to the property site Homegate.

But although July saw prices stagnate or even sightly decrease, the bigger picture shows that rents continue to rise, especially in Switzerland’s cities.

Over the last year they have increased 2 percent in Switzerland as a whole and as much as 6.4 percent in Zurich.

The canton of Graubünden saw a 4.3 percent rise compared to last year whilst rents in the cantons of Nidwalden (+7.3%) and Schwyz (+4.7%) also rose steeply.

Homegate put the general rise down to the fact that “both the number of vacant homes and the number of building permit applications are down, while demand remains high due to immigration.”

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Where in Europe have house prices and rent costs increased the most?

Wolf population in Alps growing exponentially

The number of wolves in the Alps continues to grow but there are concerns that available habitat will soon become too restricted as the population of the wild animal grows exponentially.

The organisation Groupe Loup Suisse (Swiss Wolf group) said the wolf population across the Alps was growing by 25 percent to 30 percent each year.

With around 300 wolf packs living in the Alps this summer the population has occupied around half the habitable area – given that each wolf pack needs around 250 square kilometres of territory on average.

Groupe Loup Suisse estimates therefore that the Alps has around enough space for a viable population of 800 packs.

The organisation believes it’s vital to implement measures to better protect livestock from wolf attacks.

READ ALSO: Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

Chimney sweepers in high demand

The high oil and gas prices are scaring Swiss homeowners and many are not getting ready to heat their homes with wood, broadcaster SRF reported.

With that, chimney sweep services are more sought after than ever, with businesses booked weeks ahead, especially in rural areas, where wood stoves and fireplaces are more common. But inquiries from homeowners in larger cities are also increasing, the head of the Association of chimney sweeps Switzerland Paul Grässli says.

He reminds people to have their fireplaces and stoves checked regularly by professionals to avoid accidents. “If the fireplace has not been used for years, it could be dangerous, he says.

READ ALSO: How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?