Today in Switzerland For Members

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

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected]
Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
Prices of plane tickets are on the increase. Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

Politicians speak out against Swiss bank secrecy; small apartments grow in popularity due to housing shortage; and other news in our roundup on Monday.


Moves against Swiss banking secrecy 
While bank secrecy no longer exists between Switzerland and other countries, it is still alive and well for Switzerland-based clients.

However, certain politicians are speaking out against this long-standing practice.

“Now is the time to abolish banking secrecy in Switzerland as well,” according to Tobias Vögeli, president of the Young Green Liberals.

He argues that changing the law requiring banks to maintain confidentiality about their clients’ financial affairs would be “an effective instrument against tax evasion.”

MP Hans-Peter Portmann, on the other hand, is not favourable to this measure, pointing out that banks already “ensure that customers are in good standing with the tax authorities.”

The motion will be presented to the parliament in the near future.

One-room apartments snapped up in Switzerland’s largest cities

With the housing shortage getting worse in many urban areas, apartment seekers are jumping at even the smallest accommodations, such as studio flats.

The situation is especially tense in Geneva and Zurich, where apartments of any size are snapped up as soon as they become available, according to a study by real estate appraiser Price Hubble.

“With such a short time on the market, demand is high and this is reflected in rental prices,” said Christian Steinke, Price Hubble's regional director.
Yet, these dwellings are not exactly cheap: In Geneva, the rent per square metre now costs 9 percent more than in 2022. In Zurich, it soared by 20 percent.

READ ALSO: How can Switzerland solve its housing shortage and curb rents?


Airline prices to increase sharply — so book early

Strikes at various airports across Europe, as well as staff shortages, coupled with higher fuel prices and growing post-Covid demand for travel, are pushing airlines to raise their fares — including on flights to and from Switzerland.

"The airlines are confronted with geopolitical problems," Dirk Renkert, financial expert at Comparis consumer platform, told SonntagsBlick newspaper on Sunday.  “This leads to significant price increases.” 

This means that for people who plan to fly abroad, summer vacations will be “significantly more expensive,” and there is no relief in sight in the foreseeable future.

Therefore, purchasing tickets as early as possible rather than waiting until the last minute hoping the prices will drop, is advisable.


'Wrong' fire brigade answers emergency phone call

Swiss media reported a curious piece of news on Sunday: a municipal councilor from the town of Nyon in canton Vaud, which lies close to the French border, dialled 118 — the Swiss emergency number for fire service — to report an awning which was falling from a building. 

To his surprise, the call was answered by a fire brigade…in France. The councilor tried to dial 118 again, but to no avail — he got French respondents once more.

He then dialled 117 — the emergency number for Swiss police and — you guessed it — it was answered by the gendarmerie in France .
While the situation was bizarre to say the least, the explanation for the mishap is simple: at the time of the calls, his mobile phone captured the  network in nearby France.

There was, however, a happy ending to the story: alerted by another person (whose phone was connected to Swiss network), Nyon firefighters arrived on the scene 10 minutes later.
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