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Filippo Lombardi succeeds Remo Gysin

30.09.2021 – MARC LETTAU

Remo Gysin stepped down from his role as president of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) at the end of August. The Council of the Swiss Abroad elected former Ticino member of the Council of States Filippo Lombardi as his successor.

The Council of the Swiss Abroad, the “Parliament of the Fifth Switzerland”, left no room for doubt following its meeting on 20 August: it emphatically backed the election of Filippo Lombardi from Ticino as the successor to former National Councillor Remo Gysin (SP, BS), who stepped down from his role as president of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) after six years. The new president is well known to the OSA: as the former OSA vice-president, Lombardi is familiar with its current agenda; and as one of the pioneers of the Swiss Abroad Act in force since 2015, he knows all about the issues relating to the 776,300 Swiss passport holders who live outside the country. Lombardi is currently a city councillor for Lugano. Until 2019, he represented the CVP, since renamed “Die Mitte” (The Centre), in the Council of States, of which he was a member for ten years.


He will continue to work on the "Swiss memorial for the victims of the Holocaust": Remo Gysin, former President and new honorary president of the OSA. Photo Marc Lettau

Switzerland-EU relationship is still a challenge

In his farewell address, outgoing President Remo Gysin talked about gratitude. He expressed his thanks for the enriching meetings with all the Swiss Abroad, who impressed him with their “fascinating mix of feeling Swiss and openness to the world”. In addition, he said he was not just leaving “an OSA that is on track” to his successor. There are also major challenges to face. For example, Lombardi will have to establish what the failed negotiations over a framework agreement with the European Union mean for the 434,000 Swiss who live in the EU. Gysin’s verdict: “I am missing a strategy from the Federal Council.” It is unclear, “just what the Federal Council now wants”.

Filippo Lombardi, the new OSA president, considers Switzerland-EU relations and the reintroduction of e-voting as priority issues. Photo: Marc Lettau

Filippo Lombardi said the Switzerland-EU relationship would undoubtedly shape the beginning of his presidency. He doesn’t see it as his role to tell the Swiss government how to orient its EU policy. However, he will demand that the government approach the situation of the Swiss who live in the EU with due seriousness. Otherwise expatriates will suffer the consequences sooner or later. In fact, Switzerland is already experiencing the first not inconsequential restrictions in the field of education (Erasmus) and research (Horizon). Lombardi sees the second key issue as e-voting: many Swiss Abroad will be unable to vote in Switzerland without it. That would lessen the voice of the “Fifth Switzerland”. According to Lombardi, the Council of the Swiss Abroad also needs to become more representative. Again, e-voting is the answer.

The new Council of the Swiss Abroad has approved two resolutions: it demands a “clear, transparent strategy” from the Swiss government to maintain the “achievement of freedom of movement” between Switzerland and the EU. It also wants all the vaccination certificates issued abroad to be recognised within Switzerland, provided the vaccine is recognised by the WHO.

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