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The 89-year-old “Heimat” now runs on green fuel

01.07.2022 – MARC LETTAU

Scheduled boat services on Swiss lakes are a popular mode of public transport. Lake Greifensee now has its first-ever electric-powered ferry. The “Heimat”, built in 1933, will no longer run on diesel but use an electric engine instead. Switzerland’s big ferry companies are likely to follow suit. For example, Lake Constance will soon see its first electric passenger service.

Star banker Pierin Vincenz goes to jail

In April, Zurich’s district court found former Raiffeisen CEO Pierin Vincenz guilty of forgery and disloyal management (see also “Swiss Review” 2/2022), sentencing him to three years and nine months in prison and fining him 560,000 Swiss francs. Experts in criminal law said that convicting the banking supremo, who had become entangled in various conflicts of interest, amounted to a landmark decision. Gregor Münch of the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”: “One or two chief executives may be looking over their shoulder now.”

Switzerland opens an embassy at the Vatican

The Pontifical Swiss Guard has always afforded our country a high profile at the Vatican. But it is only now that Switzerland has expressed its intention to open its own embassy there, with diplomat Denis Knobel set to become its first resident ambassador to the Holy See. The inauguration of an embassy sees Switzerland put to bed its historically fraught relationship with the Vatican. In 1873, the events of the ‘Kulturkampf’ between Catholics and Protestants in Switzerland led to the Federal Council severing diplomatic ties with the Holy See for several decades. It was not until 1991 that Switzerland appointed a diplomat for the Vatican again, and he is still based in Slovenia.

The EU wants clears answers from Switzerland

The relationship between Switzerland and the EU remains a confusing work in progress. Since abandoning talks on a framework agreement in May 2021, Switzerland has been searching for ways to re-engage in dialogue with the EU. However, for the European Commission it is not clear what solutions Switzerland intends to pursue. According to Swiss radio (SRF) sources, Brussels has now submitted a range of questions to Berne. Only when it gets clear written answers to these, it says, will it be in a position to judge whether the Swiss government can bring anything to the table that would form a reliable basis for further negotiations.

Switzerland wants to spend more on defence

A clear majority in the National Council voted in May to increase military spending to 7 billion Swiss francs a year. Provided the Council of States ratifies the decision, Switzerland’s military budget will rise by 1.4 billion francs. The National Council vote took place against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.

Picture  Built in 1933, the “Heimat” ferries passengers across Lake Greifensee from Niederuster to Maur. It will now run purely on electricity.  Photo: Keystone