Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Swiss franc increases in value against euro, new campaign launched to raise retirement age for women and other news from Switzerland on Tuesday.
Franc-euro: return to near parity
There is some good news for Swiss travellers heading to eurozone countries this summer: a favourable exchange rate between the two currencies.
One franc now buys nearly 0.99 euros, which means tourists from Switzerland have more purchasing power across much of Europe.
This is also good news for cross-border workers from neighbouring states who are converting their Swiss wages into euros.
'Huge margins' at largest Swiss retailers criticised
Coop and Migros chains expect “huge margins” on dairy products they sell in their stores, according to a survey conducted by Swiss media.
A margin Is the difference between the price a retailer pays for a product and the price it sells it for to customers,
At Coop, the gross margins reached 57 percent and Migros 46 percent — revelations which are angering milk producers and consumers alike — the former being underpaid and the latter overcharged in the process.
This practice is “a disproportion of power. There are 20,000 producers left and only two or three major buyers. We are at the mercy of a few buyers", said milk producer Christian Blaser.
As for the Federation Romande of Consumers (FRC), “in inflationary times, it is all the more important to know into which pocket the consumers’ money goes. We are not satisfied that the margin rates remain the same for the large distributors, but that prices increase for consumers", according to FRC’s spokesperson, Sophie Michaud Gigon.
Federal Council launches campaign for higher retirement age for women
Social Affairs Minister Alain Berset has launched the official campaign for AHV / AVS reform, which would bring the retirement age for women from the current 64 to 65. and higher VAT for everyone — an issue that will be decided in the next referendum on September 25th.
If accepted at the ballot box, the reform will come into force in 2024, while the gradual increase in the retirement age for women would take place from 2024 to 2027.
The reason for this measure is that the population is living longer and the old-age insurance funds are being depleted. If nothing is done, spending will exceed revenues by 2030.
Intelligence agency: Geneva teeming with Russian spies
In an unclassified report published on Monday, the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) said that Geneva has become a major European hub of undercover government activity, with Russian agents increasing their presence.
While European countries expelled Russian diplomats, Switzerland has not followed suit to the same extent.
For that reason, “international Geneva remains a nerve center for espionage activities", FIS noted.
Earlier reports found that a number of Russian diplomats accredited in Switzerland are either known members of the Russian intelligence service or suspected of working for the secret service under diplomatic cover.
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