Top news from our partner swissinfo

  • For sale: Rustic cottage with lake view. Price: CHF1

    Wed, 17 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT

    Nine stone cottages have gone on the market in Italian-speaking Switzerland at CHF1 ($1.01) each – on condition that the buyers do them up. The municipality of Gambarogno thus aims to regenerate and develop the mountain region of Sciaga.  Mount Sciaga is a mountain pasture belonging to the hamlet of Indemini, one of the most remote inhabited areas in the southern canton of Ticino. Indemini is located in a valley, Val Veddasca, that is almost entirely Italian territory, but it is Swiss and some 18 kilometres of winding curves and a mountain pass from Gambarogno, to which it has belonged since a merging of municipalities in 2010.  The typical stone buildings make up the historic centre of Indemini as well as Mount Sciaga on the opposite side of the valley. From a distance, with its well-maintained pastures, Indemini doesn’t look as though it’s dropped off the radar. But once you cross the Giona stream and climb the rough path, you notice that the houses are partially in ruins. ...

  • ‘Revolution will never start in Switzerland’

    Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    Populism isn’t just a right-wing phenomenon. A case in point: Tamara Funiciello, the outgoing – and outspoken – president of the Swiss Young Socialist Party. According to a recent University of Zurich research paper, Switzerland is home to three populist parties: the right-wing People’s Party (the biggest in the country), the anti-immigrant Lega di Ticinese (a small regional group from Italian-speaking Switzerland), and the Mouvement des Citoyens Genevois (an even smaller regional group from Geneva). On hearing this, Tamara Funiciello, the 29-year-old president of JUSO, the youth section of the Swiss Social Democrats, is mock-outraged: “Why aren’t we named?!” I tell her that the author of the report does indeed admit that JUSO displays populist tendencies – it just wasn’t included in the final analysis since, as a youth party, it’s relatively marginalised when it comes to mainstream politics. “Well – good…” says Funiciello, an answer that shows much of her political character:

  • Switzerland: where you won’t meet the Swiss

    Tue, 16 Jul 2019 15:00:00 GMT

    If you're planning a visit to the Swiss Alps, don't expect many close encounters with the locals. I recently made the acquaintance of an American family - friends of a friend, who had booked an entire house on the other side of town through Airbnb.  For their holiday in Switzerland, they had checked into a two-storey, wide-eave structure, surrounded by a well-maintained garden complete with a treehouse. Inside, knickknacks adorned the kitchen and drawings by the homeowners’ children hung from the walls while in the living room, the American kids wound down their day in front of the television. This was truly a home away from home.  Curious as to the real family who lived there, I asked the visitors what they were like, having naively assumed there would have been a small ceremony to hand over the keys -a chance no homeowner would pass up to judge whether the strangers could be trusted.  “We didn’t meet them,” was the short answer. The Americans got into the house through a ...

  • Crypto foundations continue to thrive in Switzerland

    Wed, 17 Jul 2019 15:00:00 GMT

    Yet more overseas blockchain firms are coming to Switzerland to set up foundations. British company Atlas City will establish a non-profit entity for its Catalyst project. But what’s in it for commercial enterprises that develop cutting-edge technologies? The Swiss foundation model looked to be faltering with disputes at Tezos and Cardano last year. But 18 crypto foundations were set up in 2018, bringing the total number to 58. The Geneva-based Libra Association is also expected to establish its own foundation to manage Facebook’s cryptocurrency project. Part of the reason for setting up a foundation lies in the ethos of blockchain and other distributed ledger technology (DLT) systems: to offer decentralised platforms that anyone can use to store and transmit their data – a so-called “open source” model. “The most popular and widely used computer platforms and operating systems today are all open source. Think the Web, Linux - even Microsoft is moving to open source much of ...

  • In Switzerland, populism thrives – but under control

    Tue, 16 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    What does rising populism mean for the future of democracy? In Switzerland, at least, populist and democratic ideals seem to thrive hand in hand.  Based on many indicators of what constitutes the term, Switzerland is one of the most populist countries in Europe. The right-wing, anti-immigration People’s Party is the biggest in the country, anti-elitist sentiment is strong, and the system of direct democracy can lead to controversial outbursts of popular anger. Yet Switzerland is also – on almost all indicators – a model of political stability, economic prosperity, quality of life, multiculturalism (25% of residents are foreigners), and general democratic health. Is this a paradox? It might seem so to those looking in from outside. But the particular brand of “Alpine populism” in Switzerland is built on various aspects that set it apart from other versions of the phenomenon spreading across Europe. Peaks and troughs The first is historical timing. Claude Longchamp, a ...

  • Minergie homes are booming in Switzerland

    Mon, 15 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    Switzerland’s Minergie label for sustainable construction is booming for new buildings in German-speaking Switzerland. A family shows us how it is managing the apartment it owns, which was built according to the label’s energy-saving, environmentally friendly standards. A few things work differently from in a “normal” house. Erica and Mirko have 15 years’ experience with Minergie. They first lived in a Minergie-certified rental apartment. About five years ago, they bought a large apartment (5.5 rooms) built to Minergie standards in the Zurich metropolitan region, where they live with their three children aged ten, four and one. They are soon moving to a semi-detached house and for the first time, they will be living in a building with no Minergie certification.  “We have mixed feelings about moving,” says Erica, because they like their residential estate very much.  Their reason for moving has nothing to do with Minergie. When they bought the apartment, they had two children ...

  • The power and limitations of the women’s strike

    Mon, 15 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT

    The recent Swiss women’s strike made history as a mass demonstration. One reason for the unusually strong turnout was its decentralised nature. But what are the weaknesses of this approach? Elisabeth Joris, a historian who specialises in Swiss women’s history, said just after the women’s strike: “Women don’t want to be constantly outraged, they want to shape society.” Fighting for their rights should be fun, she argued. The trade unions knew this. They decided against making any overarching demand, and instead simply ensured access to infrastructure, materials and funding.  They also formulated 15 concerns, under the title ‘Wages. Time. Respect,’ divided into ‘Financial and Social Re-evaluation of Women’s Work’, ‘More Time and Money for Carers’ and ‘Respect, Not Sexism in the Workplace.’ Concrete demands – bottom up mobilisation In part owing to the breadth of the project, about half a million people took part in the protest – the majority of them women, their backgrounds ...

  • Trafigura ends use of middlemen after corruption probes

    Mon, 15 Jul 2019 07:19:00 GMT

    Trafigura, one of the world’s biggest commodity traders, is to stop using intermediaries – the well-connected individuals who help set up contracts in resource-rich countries. The privately owned company, which trades more than 5.5 million barrels of oil per day, will end all of its “business development” agreements with agents by October, although it will continue to use security advisers, risk analysts and other specialist service providers such as port agents. The move by Trafigura follows a series of corruption investigations and allegations involving intermediaries and middlemen that have caused alarm at the highest levels of the commodity trading industry. Top executives and bankers are worried that the sector, which has been trying to improve transparency, could face onerous rules and regulation if it does not address the issue. “Trafigura continues to grow its own presence in many markets. Building on earlier statements that we are reducing the number of third ...

  • Swiss artist Daniele Finzi Pasca designs the 2019 Fête des Vignerons

    Sun, 14 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    Switzerland’s once-in-a-generation Fête des Vignerons opens on July 18 in the lakeside town of Vevey. Swiss director and choreographer Daniele Finzi Pasca designed the 2019 edition of the traditional winegrower’s festival. He promises to deliver a magical opening pageant in this interview with In the opulent setting of the Grand Théâtre in Geneva, Finzi Pasca looks like an elf who has escaped from a children᾽s tale, with his trim figure, bright eyes, agile gait and lively gestures. The artist from Ticino is a wizard on the stage who can also juggle with words. His speech flows, interwoven with metaphors. A much sought-after international artist who is always on the move, he is pressed for time. We are taking advantage of his visit to Geneva to interview him. His press officer warns us that we will have 15 minutes, and not a second more. The task ahead of him is no small feat. The Fête des Vignerons takes place roughly every 20 years and is recognised by UNESCO on ...

  • A missed fly-by, worker shortfall and stashed cash

    Sat, 13 Jul 2019 15:00:00 GMT

    Almost every article published by contains a percentage, an age, an amount of money or some other figure. Here’s a round-up of some of the most interesting statistics to appear in the past week’s stories. 6 A Swiss aerial display team missed the target of their flyover on Sunday afternoon by some six kilometres. Instead of passing over a gathering to mark the centenary of the death of local aviation pioneer Oskar Bider, the jets flew over a yodelling festival in nearby Mümliswil. 384,400 The number of dollar millionaires in Switzerland (population 8.4 million) last year, according to the latest World Wealth Report by consultants Capgemini. The Swiss figure was down 1% compared to the previous year. After seven years of growth, both the number of high-net-worth individuals around the world and their total wealth declined in 2018. 500,000 The predicted shortfall in workers in Switzerland over the next decade, according to Swiss bank UBS. It says this is ...

  • Mystical moments in the Swiss Alps

    Sat, 13 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    Many of Rolf Maeder's photos conjure up a magical or even slightly intimidating atmosphere in the Swiss mountains. Dark clouds hang above mountain tops, clouds shroud massive white peaks like lace curtains, while others like cotton balls touch the face of rocky walls – the scenery is often stunning but can also send a slight chill down your spine. “It’s a slow process and there is always an element of chance,” explains Maeder as he describes his visual work. “It often happens in perfectly unspectacular places. At moments when the light, clouds, shapes and colours combine to create something that strikes a chord with me. I hope my photos can convey this fascination to others.” His work is not about reproducing the natural setting. Editing the captured moments is a process of visualising a deep feeling that is hidden within the photo, he notes. In some cases, the photos – notably when printed in large format and framed – achieve the quality of a painting. But it’s not only the ...

  • Is the amount of chemicals in your toothpaste decided in Geneva?

    Fri, 12 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    Geneva often makes the headlines as the setting for peace talks. Should it also take credit and be recognised for our small personal victories in the daily battle to prevent tooth decay?  “All the international organisations in Geneva are doing work that has a direct impact on all of us. We don't even pay attention to it anymore. For example, when you brush your teeth, the percentage of chemicals in your toothpaste comes from standards adopted in Geneva,” Michael Moller, the former head of the United Nations in the Swiss city, told the Tribune de Genève newspaper earlier this year. Is he right? Is the amount of chemicals in your toothpaste agreed in Geneva? The answer is not so straightforward, as we will see. The International Standardization Organization (ISO), whose secretariat has been based in Geneva since 1949, has developed over 22,000 voluntary international standards covering every sector imaginable – from MP3s to milk bottles. The independent, non-governmental ...

  • The Swiss who ‘love that dirty water’

    Fri, 12 Jul 2019 22:38:00 GMT

    Members of the Swiss Society of Boston have traded the Aare, Emme and Rhine for the Charles – which is far more enjoyable than it used to be, thanks in part to a Swiss woman. Founded as the "Swiss Benevolent Society" in 1865, the SSOB now has 318 active families – many of whom represent second- or third-generation Swiss living all over New England, which borders the Atlantic Ocean and Canada. Some of its current members came to SSOB events as children, and now bring their own children along. Others join the club for shorter periods before returning to Switzerland. SWI on tour How do Swiss citizens living abroad view the political debate in their home country? What is important to the expat Swiss community when they vote? To tap into the mood of the expatriate Swiss community during this general election year, is visiting clubs in Europe as well as the Americas. “Although the members of the SSOB are very diverse in age, our common interest in Switzerland and the ...

  • What technology could help humans live on the Moon?

    Fri, 12 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT

    To mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, 20 students were set the year-long task of coming up with prototypes that could help humans to live there. Swiss and other European teams combined robotics and creative thinking to come up with their futuristic designs. Project Igluna gave the students the task of creating a potential Moon habitat. They had to come up with solutions to the challenges of living in an extreme environment, such as maintaining power supplies, growing food and looking after the health of astronauts. To put their prototypes to the test in the closest possible conditions, they set them up inside a glacier, high above the Swiss town of Zermatt. This enabled them to see how their systems would function in the cold, and at altitude.  A team from the federal technology institute ETH Zurich created a prototype robotic arm that could be programmed to cut blocks out of ice and build them into a wall, creating the framework of a living space for humans.

  • The dark side of Zug’s Crypto Valley

    Thu, 11 Jul 2019 15:00:00 GMT

    Canton Zug has been positioning itself as the global capital of cryptocurrencies, but accusations of fraud engulfing cryptocurrency markets could curb its ambitions.  In the United States, legal proceedings implicating cryptocurrency exchange platform Bitfinex in a $850 million (CHF841 million) fraud scandal are forcing Zug’s so-called “Crypto Valley” to examine its dark side.  On April 24, 2019, New York state public prosecutor Letitia James opened proceedings against cyrptocurrency exchange platform Bitfinex, which is accused of having hidden some $850 million belonging to its clients.  Bitfinex is one of the few exchange platforms to invest in the Tether cryptocurrency, which was supposed to guarantee parity with the dollar through a cash reserve of greenbacks equal to the amount of Tether issued.  And there’s the rub: $850 million has disappeared from the reserve managed by Bitfinex. At the centre of suspicions is Panama company Crypto Capital, which had been tasked with ...

  • Can Nestlé source Peruvian palm oil without deforestation?

    Thu, 11 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    Palm oil cultivation is booming in Peru, boosting the income of small farmers who supply Swiss food giant Nestlé with the product. But the crop is one of the main drivers of deforestation in this part of the country. Can farmers really “go green” amid so much demand? Like nearly all landowners in this part of the northern Peruvian region of San Martin, Marilú Bustamante has been growing oil palms for more than a decade. It was the safest bet after 20 years of terrorism and violence linked to drug trafficking. Her gamble paid off, allowing her to send her children to school, purchase farming machinery as needed and create jobs for four regular employees, as well as another four part-time workers. ​​​​​​​She sells to the local palm oil buyer, Palmas del Espino, which has granted her loans over three years when she and her husband began growing palms and continues to provide them with technical assistance. The company is part of a specialised commodity processing group called ...

  • Why are there no school rankings in Switzerland?

    Wed, 10 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    Although common in the United States and UK, you won’t find any state school rankings in Switzerland. There’s resistance, as the latest rebuff by parliament shows. An expat arriving in Switzerland looking for league tables of its state schools will be disappointed. They simply don’t exist. There is no tradition of it in Switzerland and opposition from teachers – and some parliamentarians – is strong. The parliamentary discussion on school rankings was prompted by a motion from parliamentarian Andrea Gmür, herself a former baccalaureate school teacher of English and French, on publishing already existing data on how baccalaureate school pupils fare at university and how many drop out of school. This information, which is not actually a ranking, is drawn up by the Federal Statistical Office and available to the cantons, but not the public. “I think it’s important for everybody to know this information,” Gmür, of the centre-right Christian Democrats, told

  • See Switzerland through the eyes of young people

    Wed, 10 Jul 2019 16:03:00 GMT

    Using just a smartphone and their imagination, the Swiss Generation Z have shown us in pictures what they think about different topics that influence their lives in Switzerland. wanted to know what this generation expects, feels, and thinks about a world in which they grew up, using digital tools to make a public statement on their own lives, and then share it with people around the globe. For today's 18 to 24-year-olds terrorism, environmental issues and climate change are burning issues. So, what does the generation that stepped out of the shadow of the millennials, think about their lives in Switzerland? In German-speaking Switzerland, 70% of 15 to 25-year-olds think it’s a good thing that young people take part in demonstrations demanding a change to climate policy. Consumerism is a hot topic for Gen Z, but they also recognise the immediate need for global action on climate change. Here in Switzerland, fewer people own a car or are able to drive - they ...

  • Hundreds of Swiss in ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’

    Wed, 10 Jul 2019 15:30:00 GMT

    The Twin Cities Swiss American Association, founded in 1973, boasts 425 members – 43 of whom have joined in the past year. The Twin Cities are Minneapolis and Saint Paul, which occupy opposite sides of the Mississippi River in the US state of Minnesota. Some members live in the neighboring states of South Dakota and Wisconsin, or even farther afield, but they maintain their links to the TCSAA, which in turn maintains the link to Switzerland. “The TCSAA consists of 163 households with 279 adults and 146 youth of live-in (61 families). The median member joined five years ago, while 17 member households have been an integral part of this community since the 1970s,” notes TCSAA President David Mörker in the club’s annual report. He leads the club along with a dozen board members. SWI on tour How do Swiss citizens living abroad view the political debate in their home country? What is important to the expat Swiss community when they vote? To tap into the mood of the expatriate ...

  • How the Swiss live – from co-operatives to mobile homes

    Tue, 9 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    From a single-family dwelling to a hip co-operative to a quirky home on wheels: in this series, Swiss people open their doors to The majority of Swiss live in apartment buildings as renters. In 2016, 2.2 million households were living in rented apartments, and another 1.4 million households were living in premises they owned. In fact, the ratio of owned homes has been steadily rising since 1970 in Switzerland.  In 2017 there were 4.47 million dwellings available, for a population of 8.4 million. The nationwide average monthly rent for a three-room apartment was CHF1,264 ($1,274) in 2016. In the major population centres, rents tend to be quite a bit higher.  Single-family dwellings only became popular in Switzerland after 1961. But now six out of ten buildings in Switzerland are single-family dwellings. Especially in rural areas, they seem to be popular. High-rise apartment blocks remain few in Switzerland – the first of these was built in 1932 in Lausanne.  For ...

  • Switzerland, the League of Nations, and the shadow of revolution

    Mon, 8 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    The League of Nations was founded 100 years ago, with Geneva as its headquarters, in response to the First World War, but the Swiss were also convinced to join based on worries about Russia’s Bolshevik revolution.   “Switzerland fights revolution by carrying out all the social reforms it considers possible; our nation is concentrating all its economic and moral resources on this goal," declared Swiss Foreign Minister Felix Calonder on July 2, 1919, at a meeting with Swiss reporters to outline the country’s plan to join the League of Nations. The League of Nations was born from the desire not to relive the bloodbath of the First World War. This represented a major historical milestone: the League was the first organisation to deal with international affairs in an institutional manner. The United States President, Woodrow Wilson, was one of the main initiators of the project. Initially reluctant, the European powers finally ratified the League of Nations project. Why Geneva? Since ...

  • Will London be Berned like the Swiss?

    Mon, 8 Jul 2019 07:21:00 GMT

    For three years European asset managers have kept their fingers crossed for luck, wishing hard that the UK’s exit from the EU will do minimum damage to the €25 trillion (CHF27.8 trillion) investment industry. But a dispute between the EU and Switzerland, in which financial services is a casualty, is making London and continental traders even more jittery. At the end of June, the EU allowed a permit called equivalence, which allows Swiss shares to be traded easily in the bloc, to expire. Switzerland retaliated with a warning that banks and asset managers would face fines or even jail if they flouted a ban on trading Swiss stocks on EU exchanges. The scrap follows a breakdown in talks over a Brussels-Bern trading agreement. The EU and the Swiss are trying to switch about 120 separate bilateral agreements into a single framework. Talks have been tough, with Switzerland unnerved that it would be required to adopt some EU laws. The decision by a frustrated EU not to extend ...

  • Burnout’s toll and how horse-riding in the Alps could help

    Sun, 7 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    Burnout is on the rise in Switzerland, but it is still poorly understood and highly controversial in society and among medical professionals and politicians. We spoke with Dr. Barbara Hochstrasser, president of the Swiss Expert Burnout Network, who launched the first burnout programme in the country in 2004, as well as Claudia Kraaz, a stress management coach in Zurich, about how Switzerland is coming to terms with the condition. What is Switzerland learning about burnout, what causes it, and how to treat it? Could horse-riding hold the secret? Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes to ensure that you don’t miss the next one. ​​​​​​​

  • Switzerland, a nation of football

    Sun, 7 Jul 2019 13:00:00 GMT

    Switzerland, once better known for ice hockey and skiing, has become a nation of football. A successful national team is backed up by a domestic network of over 1,400 clubs and 268,000 licensed players – 8% of them women. And of course, the country is also home to the most important international football federations, FIFA and UEFA. This audio tour takes place on a cloudy Saturday afternoon in May: it’s one hour before kick-off in a suburb of Bern, where the first fans are arriving at the Liebefeld-Hessgut sports complex. A third-division Swiss league game between FC Köniz and FC Münsingen; a familiar atmosphere, people catching up, chatting about football or ice hockey in the stadium’s restaurant. Pros and amateurs side-by-side Switzerland has two professional leagues: the Super League and, just below it, the Challenge League. Here in Liebefeld, in the third division Promotion League, teams are mixed; amateurs play alongside pros. However, the salaries are hardly comparable: an ...

  • A scuffle with VIP minders, a brush with poverty and a tragic drowning

    Sat, 6 Jul 2019 15:00:00 GMT

    Almost every article published by contains a percentage, an age, an amount of money or some other figure. Here’s a round-up of some of the most interesting statistics to appear in the past week’s stories. 6 Members of the entourage of Cameroonian President Paul Biya that were arrested in Geneva for a attacking a Swiss journalist. They received suspended prison sentences of two to three months.   30 million The fine in Swiss francs imposed on car importers for failing to meet national CO2 emissions targets. Average new car emissions increased by 2.8% from 2017 and average fuel consumption by 3.6%.  8.2 The proportion of the Swiss population living in poverty as of 2017. The poverty line in Switzerland stood at CHF2,259 ($2,292) per month for a single person and CHF3,990 per month for a household.  1 billion The amount of venture capital investment in Swiss francs attracted by Swiss start-ups in the first half of the year. It is double the ...

  • Turner and his Alpine paintings are back in Switzerland

    Sat, 6 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    The Alps were always considered a rocky, icy – and deadly – wasteland. It took the genius of artists like J.M.W. Turner to transform the jagged peaks into a mythical and aesthetically pleasing primeval landscape. A new Swiss exhibit displays his Alpine work. In 1802, a young Briton travelled through Switzerland. His name: Joseph Mallord William Turner. His destination: the Alps.   From western Switzerland to Bern, Thun and finally via Brienz to Grindelwald; later from Lucerne to the Devil’s Bridge and Schöllenen Gorge. These were some of the stops on Turner’s journey to the Swiss mountains. He relentlessly captured his impressions in sketches and small watercolours. The body of work he took home was so substantial that he had enough material for decades.  Turner, 27, was unknown, but his talent for painting was unmistakable and influential circles in London had high hopes for him.   He would more than fulfil his early promise. His paintings of Swiss mountains – painted after ...

  • Wanted: 10,000 teachers a year for Swiss schools 

    Fri, 5 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    It's the end of term, or soon will be, in many places, but some Swiss schools are already wondering how they are going to hire enough staff for the beginning of the next school year.  The teacher shortage has been described as acute in many cantons, which are in charge of educational matters in Switzerland. Schools are scrambling to get their staffing in place ahead of next term, starting in August and September.  What’s happening  In the northwest Swiss canton of Aargau, the situation is “the most extreme it’s ever been,” a local primary school head told Swiss public television SRF at the end of May. “Sometimes there’s not even a single job application for some jobs,” said Linda Villiger. Current vacant posts number over 200. At the beginning of July, canton Bern was advertising almost 80 posts for its state schools and in canton Zurich it was around 270. The situation was confirmed by a recent survey of school principals that found that on average c.39% of primary school ...

  • Meet one of the oldest Swiss-American clubs in the US

    Fri, 5 Jul 2019 19:00:00 GMT

    Several Swiss clubs formed in Louisiana in the 1800s, but this is the only one still in existence. Founded in 1855, the Swiss Benevolent Society reinvented itself a few times before eventually becoming the Swiss American Society of New Orleans – making it one of the oldest such clubs in the United States.* SWI on tour How do Swiss citizens living abroad view the political debate in their home country? What is important to the expat Swiss community when they vote? To tap into the mood of the expatriate Swiss community during this general election year, is visiting clubs in Europe as well as the Americas. Here’s an excerpt of the discussion held while SWI was visiting. Check back soon for the entire talk. Club history It began when 31 Swiss men formed a society to provide mutual assistance among members, as well as moral and material aid to other Swiss – a purpose that still applies to the current club. There had been a similar group founded some 20 years ...

  • Has the EU scored an own goal with Swiss stock exchange freeze?

    Fri, 5 Jul 2019 07:18:00 GMT

    Of all the sticks the European Union could have used to beat Switzerland into line, freezing out its stock market is perhaps one of the most ineffectual, an economist tells  Since Monday, Swiss trading platforms have been unable to export their services to the EU. This has blocked direct access to Europe’s fourth largest exchange for EU traders. In retaliation, the Swiss government banned the trading of Swiss company shares on EU exchanges.   All this because Switzerland and the EU cannot agree on a framework for future political ties - and especially the pace at which negotiations are going (too slow for the EU).  The results of the stock exchange ban so far have proven benign. Swiss company shares have shown no sign of dipping in value while trading volumes on exchanges have been in the “business as usual” range this week.   This shows that the EU may have made a misjudgment, says Reto Föllmi, an economics professor at the University of St Gallen. “The EU ...

  • Fact check: Lonely guinea pigs and other quirky Swiss rumours

    Thu, 4 Jul 2019 09:51:00 GMT

    Is that really true? We asked you whether you’d heard anything about Switzerland that sounded suspicious and that you wanted us to check out and clear up. Here are answers to some of the quirkier queries – rumours, urban myths and weird laws. Questions ranged from pressing issues such as nocturnal neighbourly noises to hidden gold, the consumption of dogs, and road tunnels stuffed with explosives – and perhaps the most common question of them all: Is it true that it’s not possible in Switzerland to buy just one guinea pig – you have to buy at least two because they get lonely and need company? I hope it’s true because it’s ADORBS. – Vanessa Bradley  It’s possible to do many things in Switzerland, Vanessa, but whether they’re TOTES legal is another matter. You can certainly buy just one guinea pig – it’s not as if they come in multipacks – but “guinea pigs are very social animals and may not be kept on their own”, the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office confirms.  The ...

  • When the world’s science writers gather in Switzerland

    Thu, 4 Jul 2019 08:00:00 GMT

    The World Conference of Science Journalists is underway this week in Lausanne, designed to strengthen the professional, ethical and technical skills of reporters from all over the globe. What do the visitors from abroad think of Swiss contributions to science? This year's event (WCSJ2019) is being held at the EPFL, the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Attendees from all over the world shared their impressions of Switzerland's role in scientific research: Several attendees told us more about their work and special areas of interest. The guy who made science sexy in Cameroon Stephane Kenmoe is a researcher and TV science expert from Cameroon. He now works as a physicist in Germany, where he got his PhD. "I’m also a science communicator," he says. "I want to boost the scientific culture in Cameroon, where people aren’t very enthusiastic about science." He points out that many developing countries suffer from a lack of scientific culture, so he "decided to ...

  • Why an Australian scientist is finding out more about Lake Geneva 

    Wed, 3 Jul 2019 07:59:00 GMT

    Iconic Lake Geneva is not only beautiful, with huge cultural value for the people around it, but it is also a “fascinating open-air laboratory”, says Australian scientist Andrew Barry. The research he and his team are doing in this lake could help us understand more about climate change and the impact of human activity on water resources all over the world.    Professor Andrew Barry, originally from Brisbane, Australia, joined EPFL in 2005. He currently heads EPFL’s Environmental Engineering Institute. Since September 2018 he has also been interim Dean of its School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), which joins these three disciplines. That, he says is one of the reasons why he came to Lausanne.   “I think the Swiss system is remarkably well integrated, which is an attraction to come here,” he told “And this rather rare combination of disciplines within a single faculty is extremely useful, because we can tackle everything to do with ...

  • Women’s strike should be a wake-up call for Swiss companies

    Wed, 3 Jul 2019 12:11:00 GMT

    Swiss women protested en masse on June 14 calling for equal treatment in the workplace and beyond. Allyson Zimmermann argues that a fairer workforce is good for business and shares what companies can do to help close the gender gap. As the Europe Executive Director of Catalyst, she provides guidance on creating workplaces that work for women. Swiss women confront many barriers in the workplace. Challenges include a school system generally not designed for working families and a high part-time working culture, forcing many women on to the "mummy track". They are not alone. When Catalyst’s global research looked at the traits of a so-called ‘ideal worker’, we found that even when women did “all the right things” to advance, it did not have the same pay off as it did for men. We also found that men are promoted based on potential whereas women are often promoted based on proven performance. This means women tend to make more money by staying with the same employer than by ...

  • Switzerland nurtures secrecy on pesticides

    Tue, 2 Jul 2019 08:51:00 GMT

    In Switzerland, approval procedures for controversial pesticides are still far from transparent, fueling strong suspicions of collusion between the authorities and industry. Chlorpyrifos and Chlorothalonil: The names of these two pesticides are far less familiar to the general public than the highly contested glyphosate. However, in June the Swiss authorities announced their withdrawal from the market, after reassessing their harmful effects. “These are old molecules that were introduced in the 1960s and whose health and environmental problems have long been known,” explains Nathalie Chèvre, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Lausanne. “Chlorpyrifos is a cousin of sarin gas, and is associated with IQ deficiencies in children.” In Chèvre’s view, the timing of the withdrawal is not coincidental. “Very often, products are banned once they are no longer profitable and the manufacturers are ready to put financially more attractive molecules on the market. In this ...

  • 50 years of Swiss-American friendship in Denver

    Tue, 2 Jul 2019 18:41:00 GMT

    That “mystical relationship between Swiss and mountains” is evident when you see photos of outings organized by the Swiss-American Friendship Society in Denver. “Colorado fortunately offers many opportunities, regardless of season, to enjoy the mountain scenery and outdoor activities — hiking, boating, camping, skiing, skating and admiring the fall colors,” points out long-time member Fritz Bart, whose grandparents and Zurich-born father were Swiss. Having joined the club in 1991, today he’s a board member and event coordinator. SWI on tour How do Swiss citizens living abroad view the political debate in their home country? What is important to the expat Swiss community when they vote? To tap into the mood of the expatriate Swiss community during this general election year, is visiting clubs in Europe as well as the Americas. Formed in 1969 — 50 years ago — the Swiss-American Friendship Society (SAFS) was a spin-off of the former Swiss Society of Denver; it’s ...

  • It’s time for a national littering fine in Switzerland

    Tue, 2 Jul 2019 16:51:00 GMT

    After observing and cleaning up industrial litter near his home, Swiss resident Paul Douglas Lovell believes Switzerland needs to enact a nationwide fine for not properly disposing of trash. Ask any tourist and they’ll describe Switzerland as a very clean country. They may then add that it is also very expensive. I moved here from the concrete-grey environment that is London so I never take the beauty of this country for granted and am truly grateful to be here. I’m proud of this place I call home. But I’m bothered by one thing: industrial littering. My home is surrounded by hills and trees, with a babbling brook running through the middle of the village and a small industrial zone at its edge. A typically unspoilt slice of the Swiss landscape is on my doorstep. So when I’m out walking the dog and I see litter dotting the hedges along my route, it irks me. If I don’t pick it up, I’ll scowl at it every time I pass by, until it’s gone, either by my hand, someone else’s or ...

  • How the Sikhs integrated in Switzerland

    Mon, 1 Jul 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    ​​​​​​​ The first Sikhs to settle in Switzerland faced hardship because of their distinct appearance and traditions. A book published by one of their first Swiss supporters helps clear misconceptions about this community.    The gurudwara – a place of worship for followers of Sikhism – in the town of Däniken in northern Switzerland looks completely out of place. It is in the middle of an industrial zone with the cooling tower of a nuclear power plant in the background. The yellow building with four onion-shaped turrets stands out just like the first Sikh immigrants to Switzerland did. Seventy-two-year-old Christoph Baumann, an expert on Indian religions and a regular visitor to the Däniken gurudwara, was one of the first Swiss people to welcome them.    “I like Sikhism because nobody tried to convince me to convert. It is also a monotheistic religion and I belong to the Protestant church which is quite similar,” he told He recently published a manual in German ...

  • ‘We came for all mankind’

    Mon, 1 Jul 2019 12:26:00 GMT

    The race for the moon continues to fascinate, also in the new documentary about the Apollo 11 mission. Several astronauts came to Zurich for the European premiere. After the moderate success of the Hollywood biopic “First Man”, dedicated to Neil Armstrong, “Apollo 11”, the new film by Todd Douglas Miller, is a pleasant surprise. With no special effects and (almost) no pompous music, it stands out thanks to its superbly restored archive footage, the strength of which had perhaps been forgotten. This fresh look at the “most dangerous mission in history” won a Stephen Hawking medal at its premiere at the Starmus Festival in Zurich. Both the director as well as some astronauts were on hand, including Alfred Worden and Charlie Duke (Apollo 15 and 16, respectively). With a mix of music and awards, the Starmus Festival pays homage to the people who made the first moon landing possible 50 years ago. The annual festival takes place every summer. This was its first time in Switzerland.

  • Clock ticks for investors to reclaim CHF15bn of Swiss commissions

    Mon, 1 Jul 2019 11:17:00 GMT

    Time is running out for investors to reclaim up to SFr15bn ($15.4bn) in investment fund commissions that was pocketed by Swiss banks. Swiss lenders historically received lucrative commissions from asset managers, whose products they pushed to their wealth management clients. These rebates, which were as high as 2 per cent of assets in some cases, generated SFr4.2bn for banks in 2012, equivalent to 12.4 per cent of the sector’s profits, according to analysis by consultancy Finalix of data provided by the Swiss Bankers Association. The practice came to an end in 2012 when Switzerland’s highest court banned banks from retaining commissions. The ruling was significant for Switzerland’s largest banks, including UBS, Credit Suisse and Julius Baer, as it applied to commissions paid by a lender’s in-house asset management unit to its wealth division. The Federal Supreme Court ruled that such commissions belong to the end investor and can be claimed back, yet few claims have been ...

  • What should be done with foreigners who joined Islamic State?

    Sun, 30 Jun 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    Switzerland is one of the many countries facing difficult choices in dealing with their citizens linked to the Islamic State. These are some of the options on the table, and the challenges involved.  US-backed Kurdish-led forces are currently holding tens of thousands of people linked to Islamic State in northern Syria after capturing the last IS stronghold in March. Rights groups are concerned about due process and prison conditions for IS detainees both in Syria and in neighbouring Iraq. The detainees are mostly Syrians and Iraqis but also include some 2,000 foreigners from more than 70 countries, as well as women and children being held in a separate camp that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet described as “deeply sub-standard”. There are currently a dozen adults with links to Switzerland in northern Syria, and the United Nations this week called for fair trials for Islamic State captives and for countries to take responsibility for their nationals.  ...

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