Tag Archive: Switzerland

Cameron’s ‘brick wall’

On 30th of last month there was a ‘Major’ statement in which the great man stated that David Cameron had a good chance of renegotiating the EU’s fundamental immigration rules after the rise of populist movements across Europe. He continued by stating that people might be surprised about what Cameron manages to achieve in terms of a new settlement with Brussels.

According to Swissinfo Switzerland plans to impose fewer limits on workers from the European Union than on those from other countries in a proposal for a draft law on immigration curbs. In a statement on Friday the Swiss government said: Admission for nationals of EU and EFTA states should be less restrictively regulated than for persons from third countries, This brought a swift rebuttal from the Commission, whose spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, said: Quantitative limits and national preference are contrary to our treaties. Negotiating them is not an option for the Commission.

It would seem therefore that what Major called the EU’s fundamental immigration rules have taken on the appearance of a rather thick brick wall, one having ‘concrete’ foundations; and against which Cameron seems intent on banging his head. Of course this raises the question of which is the thicker: the brick wall or Cameron’s head.

Meanwhile, the Swiss government’s plan was criticised by the recent referendums chief backer, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), who accused the government of deliberately provoking the EU with a hard line approach in the hope that its rejection might pave the way for a new vote. Under no circumstances will the People’s Party accept that the new law is thwarted in such a manner, said the party. The SVP, which is now the largest party in the Swiss parliament, may well state that they will not accept the result of the referendum being thwarted, but at the end of the day it is the people that will decide such.

This entire ‘battle of wills’ twixt the Swiss and the EU is promising to boil over into a most intriguing situation – and it is one that we need to keep an eye on in the future.


Share
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Follow
twitterrsstwitterrss

Democracy at work

While we in Britain had no voice about changes being made to our armed forces; how we wish our health service to operate; whether we should have a minimum wage and at what level it should be set; or who can and cannot look after children, the people of Switzerland have just had that privilege today.

They have voted to boost the status of GPs by 88% to 12%; stopped the purchase of the Swedish Gripen fighter by 53% to 47%; decided against the introduction of a national minimum wage by 76% to 23%; and banned pedophiles working with children by 63% to 36%.

Three of the issues are self-explanatory, but for those readers unsure of the background to the GP question a handy explanation can be found here.

With typical Swiss efficiency a useful graphic (which was available almost immediately) can be viewed here with a breakdown by canton on each issue.

Now who, among the electorate in Britain, would not wish to have the privileges of the Swiss?

 

 

 


Share
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Follow
twitterrsstwitterrss

Cause and effect.

Readers will recall the recent post about the Swiss Air Force only working ‘office hours’ and will remember that for every action there is a reaction.

Sure enough there is now a re-think taking place in Switzerland with a view to the Swiss Air Force making plans to become operational 24 hours a day in a few years at an estimated additional annual cost of $34 million.

One can’t help but think that by the time the Swiss become fully operational, our government would be coming to the end of an impact assessment, consultation with their ‘partners’ and have spent many hours increasing CO2 emissions within the House of Commons.


Share
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Follow
twitterrsstwitterrss

Swiss Efficiency – making time for lunch

When this article was forwarded to me my initial reaction was that it had to be a joke – another of these unfounded rumours that quickly become fact.

However further digging uncovered an article authored by Nina Larson of AFP, together with one from 20 minuten and another from swissinfo – all of which in fact confirm that the Swiss Air force does indeed operate office hours – in which is included an hour and a half for lunch. From the latter report:

While Italian and French military aircraft were scrambled to accompany the plane,  no Swiss fighter jets were deployed because Switzerland does not have round-the-clock fighter jet intervention capability.
 
Air force spokesman Laurent Savary told Geneva’s Le Temps newspaper that Switzerland did not have fighter jets available 24 hours per day because of budgetary constraints and noise restrictions.
 
Switzerland’s air bases also only operate between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. and from 1.30 p.m. to 5 p.m., except on Monday nights when training exercises are held, a fact that was met with some irony on Monday.

As Tyler Durden writes on ZeroHedge:

Our sincerest condolences aside to any nation that relies on France to protect it from airborne attack, any and all aspiring European dictators with delusions of grandure [sic] and hopes of taking over the continent will surely want to know when they can land their entire airforce in the Swiss country unimpeded. …….Then again, now that Switzerland has lost the one main industry that made the country the envy of the entire world, namely its banking industry which was a juggernaut during the “secrecy” years which are now over and done with, who really would bother invading some green alpine meadows and a few Milka cows?

On the other hand Switzerland is safe from invasion because, as any cynic of direct democracy will point out, the Swiss people would no doubt have a referendum to ascertain whether they would allow such an event.

 


Share
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Follow
twitterrsstwitterrss

‘Marr’ing* the news

timthumb

Apparently our television screens were ‘Marr’d’ somewhat this morning with the appearance of Jose Manuel Barroso on them – but it was nice of a member of our real government to give up his time to share his thoughts. (starts 44:13)

He made plain that Cameron’s wish to limit one of the four founding principles of the European Union, the freedom of movement, was not up for renegotiation, while also failing to give any assurance that Cameron will be in any position to hold his ‘In/Out’ referendum by 2017. It was also noticeable that he confirmed the plans for deeper integration will require treaty change, something he said was a very involved process. (now where have we heard all that before?) On the question of Scotland joining the European Union Barroso said it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible for an independent Scotland to join the European Union on the basis that any application has to have the agreement of all the existing member states – in other words Britain would have a veto.

It was interesting that also on Marr’s programme was George Clooney, obviously taking the opportunity to promote his new film The Monument Men. a film about the vast looting of national treasures by the Nazis and the job of the Allies to get it back and return it to their rightful owners. (starts 37:08) In that film Clooney says Its exactly what we are fighting for; a culture, a way of life. You can wipe out a generaation of people, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll come back, but if you destroy their achievements, their history, then its like they never existed. Is that not what both the EU and our national politicians are attempting – to change our way of life, our culture, our history – and all without our agreement?

Leaving to one side arguments about whether, economically, it is in this country’s interests to be a member of the European Union, is that not what makes a country what it is – remembering its achievements and its history and learning from those? The same argument can be made against the system of representative democracy wherein national politicians can decide such matters and, as with the European Union, without any recourse to public agreement. I suppose the most obvious example of ‘refashioning’ history is the EU meme that it is the EU that brought and has maintained peace in Europe for the last 60 years.

It is worth repeating something that I have written on a number of occasions: a country does not belong to any politician, or group of politicians – it belongs to the people; and therefore where ownership of a country is concerned, it is the people that are the ‘masters’.  That is the beauty of direct democracy wherein it is the people who decide what happens within their own country – witness the recent referendums in Switzerland at which the people decided to put a cap on immigration and not to allow the building of any more minarets. One can call this ‘mob rule’ if one wishes, but is it not right that the people, albeit by majority vote, decide their – and their country’s – future? 

Another appearance worth mentioning was that of Philip Hammond discussing the flooding crisis in which he stated that the Environment Agency’s policy on dredging needed ‘looking at’; that there was a need to balance expenditure bearing in mind the cost/benefit factor; and HS2. Neither Marr nor Hammond once acknowledged the ‘EU element’; not once did Marr raise the point about which is more important: Overseas Aid weighed against the needs of this country’s own people; and as for transport, not once did Marr or Hammond acknowledge that transport per se is an EU competence and that, as a result, any national policy is constrained by the EU. Never mind ignoring the elephant in the room, methinks we had an entire herd of them present in that Hammond interview!

Where our media is concerned I cannot but re-pose the question: and we are not being ‘conditioned’?

*Marring: present participle of ‘mar’ - impair the quality or appearance of; spoil.

 


Share
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Follow
twitterrsstwitterrss

Swiss boardrooms – preference for targets, not quotas

It will be recalled that the European Union wishes to impose a requirement that 40% of corporate boardrooms will be comprised of women. During the process the Norway Model of Boardroom Quotas was studied, plus of course La Viviane lost no time in helping the process along. She may well believe that: Governments have a responsibility to improve and facilitate work-life balance so people can combine a family and a career; but this smacks a tad to me of a nudge towards social engineering and state ordained at that. Is it not up to people to work out what balance they want where family and career are concerned? In which case why are quotas required?

During November 2013 a press release was made available on boardroom quotas for women and the matter was on the agenda of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting held on 9/10 December, at which the United Kingdom was represented by Ms Esther McVey Minister for Employment, Department for Work and Pensions; and Ms Jane Ellison Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, Department for Work and Pensions. The conclusions reached at this meeting can be read on page 8 of this document. The Progress Report mentioned in the conclusions on page 8 can be read here.

Contrast the attitude of ‘you will do’ from our EU Government with that of Switzerland and the process adopted there. In summary, the  cabinet has agreed in to introduce a 30% women boardroom target for companies with close links to the Swiss government, with the guidelines, approved last November, applying to 29 companies with a total of 264 board seats and are to be implemented by 2020 which include the Post Office, the Swisscom telecom company, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the Skyguide air traffic control, the financial and nuclear safety regulators and the Ruag armament firm.

In fact from the article we learn that while this approach might not seem exceedingly ambitious, it is however in line with recommendations by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which in its latest country survey on Switzerland, the organisation supports a soft approach such as voluntary targets, disclosure requirements and a so-called Comply or Explain policy – a corporate governance code, allowing companies not to comply with certain provisions, but they have to explain the reasons and provide an alternative solution. Boardroom quotas may not always be economically efficient and are therefore a second best option, says Richard Dutu, economist at the Swiss desk of the OECD in Paris.

And being Switzerland, the people of Basel City will be the first to decide on a similar project at a cantonal level – for the boardrooms of its state bank, public transport and utilities in February.

Coercion or choice? Where life-balance is concerned, at least those in Basel City will get the latter option.


Share
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Follow
twitterrsstwitterrss

Housing enters Swiss immigration debate

The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has introduced the subject of housing – rents and house prices – into the debate and referendum due on 9th February. It is reported that Swiss government has acknowledged that there is a link between strains on the housing market and the free movement of people.

While the result of the referendum had previously been judged as being on a knife-edge by opinion pollsters, now the SVP has introduced the subject of housing – and the reported percentages of people who stated that the housing shortage was a worry – it may well be the SVP will be successful and gain the result they want. Such a result will obviously create a real problem viz-a-viz relations twixt Switzerland and the EU.

Should the SVP initiative fail there will be another bite of the cherry for those who do wish to limit immigration as another referendum is due to take place in November with the “Stop Overpopulation” initiative sponsored by the environmentalist group Ecopop; the initiative favouring the protection of the environment and natural resources by limiting immigration to 0.2% of annual population growth.

It is difficult to imagine the sense of satisfaction one might have in forcing ones politicians, against their will, to undo something to which they have agreed.

 


Share
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Follow
twitterrsstwitterrss

A personal choice….

…or, whose life is it anyway?

On the 9th February this year the Swiss people, besides deciding on ‘matters immigration‘ will also be deciding on other matters which affect their country and themselves. One of the other matters will be whether abortion should be state funded or privately funded. As a consequence – and in advance of this particular vote – it is not surprising that an article should appear in the Swiss media about abortion.

Setting to one side the question of whether a foetus has a life until such time as it becomes born,  consider the position of the woman carrying such – read the article linked; and those articles linked within each link (ie, get the views of women who have had to make their own decision).

Direct Democracy is often referred to, by those against such a system, as ‘mob rule’ – but consider: which is better, a decision taken by the majority of the people whose lives are affected;  or a decision taken by the mob rule of a minority who profess to represent the views of others, but don’t. By what logic does that minority – predominately male – presume to take a decision that affects just a minority of their own number? Do not those, whose lives they wish to organise and control, not have a voice?

Whether it be the subject of abortion, overseas aid, law & order, waste collection, energy provision, control of bailiff’s modus operandi, (the list is endless) – should you not have the deciding voice on any provision of those services?

Why should any decision on anything ‘local’ be made applicable to our country as a whole? Why cannot local areas (the designation of which to be decided by the people) have differing laws? I have to return to an oft quoted question of mine: whose country is it, whose life is it?

Who would not like the opportunity to decide that which happens within their own country, what happens to their own lives? Who would not like the opportunities offered to them by the principles of Direct Democracy and the 6 Demands?

Is not representative democracy an abortion of direct democracy?

Just asking……………………

 


Share
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Follow
twitterrsstwitterrss

Free movement of people

Readers may recall that I posted on the matter of a referendum to be held in Switzerland on 9th February as a result of an initiative from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) to limit immigration from the EU.

Swissinfo has published the remarks of Viviane Reding which were given in an interview to Schweiz am Sonntag in which Reding states that it would be an illusion to think that the free movement of people could be renegotiated individually, were the SVP initiative to succeed; adding that if Switzerland wants to make changes it will have to renegotiate all bilateral agreements in their entirety, because they are linked.

Although her remarks were directed at Switzerland, it is obvious that she had others in mind, such as Open Europe and the Prime Minister of the UK.

Readers will also recall that Viviane Reding is due to visit the UK on 10th February as part of her ‘meet the citizens of the EU’ tour that she is currently undertaking. She has also recently taken part in an on-line Q&A session with her citizens, one held by Global Conversation, which lasted for just over an hour. This session was preceded by a 15 minute interview in which she repeated that the free movement of people was not a matter for negotiation – both interview and Q&A session can be viewed here for those interested readers.

Still Open Europe continue to further their reform meme - but they must surely be aware that their idea of reform is not that of Viviane Reding’s, something she made plain in the aforementioned, linked, interview. Still, nothing like flogging a dead horse is there?

 


Share
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Follow
twitterrsstwitterrss

There’s democracy – and there’s democracy

Between now and 2015 the people of Switzerland will be voting on three aspects of immigration.

On February 9, Swiss voters will have their say on an initiative of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party called “Against Mass Immigration”. The initiative calls for the re-introduction of quotas for foreigners, cross-border workers and asylum-seekers.
 
Two more public votes on immigration will take place before the next federal parliamentary elections in 2015. One will be on the question of whether to extend the free movement of persons to Croatia, which joined the European Union on July 1, 2013. Parliament will debate the issue next year, and the People’s Party has already announced it will launch a referendum.
 
The other vote will be on an initiative of the environmentalist group Ecopop that aims to protect the environment and natural resources by limiting immigration to 0.2% of annual population growth. (Source)

Coupled with those referenda may well be another on the question of Switzerland’s future relationship with the European Union.

Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter today takes on the rotating presidency of the Swiss government. In an interview with swissinfo.ch, he speakes about one of the main issues that lie ahead in 2014 for Switzerland: the future of the bilateral approach with the European Union and on which he states In the end it is parliament and possibly the people who have the last word. (Source)

Compare and contrast the system of democracy in the United Kingdom with that in Switzerland and then ask yourselves why we in this country do not get a similar opportunity to keep in check the decisions made by our politicians where the future of our – I repeat, our – country is concerned.

On the other hand, would that opportunity be of any use when the total brain cell count of the tribal vote does not even reach that of a singe gnat?


Share
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Follow
twitterrsstwitterrss

Hosted By PDPS Internet Hosting

© Witterings from Witney 2012