Today in Switzerland For Members

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

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected]
Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
This is how people abroad imagine Switzerland. Image by Jörg Vieli from Pixabay

How Swiss prices differ from the EU's, Zurich police must disclose nationality of criminals, and other news in our Friday roundup.


Price level in Switzerland twice as high as the EU’s average

In 2021, Swiss consumer prices were 54 percent higher than in the 27 countries of the European Union, according to a new analysis of the purchasing power parity published on Thursday by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO). 

The highest figures are those for hospital services, where prices were more than three times higher than the European average, but also for meat (around 2.5 times higher). On the other hand, audiovisual, photographic and computer equipment was 5 percent cheaper in Switzerland, the study found.

In international comparison, only Iceland, the Scandinavian countries, and Luxembourg came close to Switzerland’s price level.

It is important to note, however, that the survey took place before inflation rates across Europe soared, changing the current price dynamics in Switzerland’s favour.
READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?


Zurich police must disclose nationality of criminals

In March 2021, Zurich voters decided that municipal police must reveal the nationality of suspects in all reports, though in previous years law enforcement had deliberately avoided doing this, so as not to be accused of racial profiling.
However, on Thursday the Supreme Court has upheld the cantonal requirement, ruling that Zurich’s police force must continue to make this information public, as this is what the voters wanted. 

The disclosure of a suspect’s nationality — along with their age and gender — is widespread in Switzerland, but Zurich’s practice came under fire, with opponents taking  the matter to court.
READ MORE: Switzerland: Should a suspect's ethnicity be made public by police?

Switzerland image abroad: Alps and chocolate
Switzerland enjoys an excellent reputation in other countries, according to a new survey of 18 nations conducted by Presence Switzerland, a government body responsible for promoting Switzerland’s image abroad.
Switzerland is mainly known for its mountains (23 percent of respondents), chocolate (18 percent), beauty (17 percent), watchmaking (14 percent), banks (12 percent), cheeses (10 percent), as well as the strength and stability of its economy (11 percent), and a high quality of life (7 percent).
Swiss neutrality is a theme that has gained in visibility since the war in Ukraine: 12 percent of survey participants have mentioned it. 


New Federal Councillor criticised for lack of English

Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, who was elected to the Federal Council last week and will be heading the Justice Department from January 1st, is a native French speaker who is fluent in German as well.
However, as several MPs have pointed out, she “doesn't speak a word of English."

"If you always need an interpreter during [international] negotiations, that's definitely a disadvantage," according to MP Marcel Dobler.
Another deputy, Martina Bircher, agreed that Baume-Schneider’s lack of English is a major hurdle for the Swiss government.

“We now have to conclude agreements with various countries in the area of asylum. We need someone who speaks English,” Bircher said. “She has to improve her English skills, the sooner the better."
Baume-Schneider already said learning English is on her "to-do" list, but she is not the first or only Cabinet member whose language skills need to be honed.

Economy Minister Guy Parmelin, whose job description includes negotiating international trade accords, made news in 2018, when he famously said in an interview: “I can English understand.”

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