Fall in the number of asylum applications
A total of 27,207 people applied for asylum in Switzerland in 2016. That is almost a third less or 12,316 fewer applications than in the previous year. The State Secretariat for Migration is estimating an even lower figure for this year. The decline is primarily attributable to the closure of the Balkans route in March 2016. By comparison, the number of applications in Europe overall remained steady last year at 1.3 million. This also means that the proportion accounted for by Switzerland of all applications made in Europe has also fallen. While the Swiss share stood at 8.2 % in 2012, it fell to around 2 % last year.
Extract from the criminal records database for Ticino
The National Council’s Political Institutions Committee (PIC) has approved a cantonal initiative from the canton of Ticino. This states that the authorities should be able to systematically request an extract from the criminal records database, without justification, from EU citizens applying for a residence or cross-border commuter permit in Switzerland. The canton of Ticino has been using this procedure for two years and has now sought legitimacy for it. The PIC voted narrowly in favour by 13 to 11. Its Council of States sister committee will now draw up a draft bill.
Free trade after Brexit
Johann Schneider-Ammann, Minister for Economic Affairs, wants to conclude a free trade agreement with the UK as soon as possible after Brexit. In an interview with “Sonntagsblick”, Schneider-Ammann said that not a day should go by without a new agreement entering into force after the UK’s departure from the EU. The Federal Councillor indicated that Liam Fox, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, had assured him at the WEF in Davos that he was extremely keen on an agreement with Switzerland.
Literature prize for Charles Linsmayer
Charles Linsmayer, a journalist and literary scholar from Zurich, has received a “special award for promoting literature” at the 2017 Swiss Literature Awards. This Federal Office of Culture prize endowed with 40,000 Swiss francs acknowledges the efforts of a person or institution in promoting literature in Switzerland. The award was presented for the third time. Linsmayer also writes a regular literature series for “Swiss Review”.