Four years after Switzerland officially joined the European Union’s borderless Schengen zone and the Dublin accord on asylum, it has been revealed that costs of Swiss membership are almost 14 times what were originally mentioned.
In June 2005, the cabinet announced that the costs “would amount in the coming years … to an average of SFr7.4 million ($8 million) a year”.
This turns out to have been a massive underestimate, according to a report on Swiss public radio. The justice ministry said that next year the SFr100 million mark would be crossed for the first time.
Above all, the costs of the information system have shot up. But also Switzerland’s contribution to the EU’s so-called “External Borders Fund” grows from year to year.
Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga admitted that the numbers were higher than expected – “and we know why: certain costs were simply not taken into account”.
Nevertheless, Sommaruga said it was now a question of strengthening cooperation with Schengen-Dublin.
“We know the Schengen zone faces complex issues – Greece for one – and Switzerland has an interest in Schengen controlling these external borders well,” she said.
In June 2005, 54.6 per cent of Swiss voted in favour of the Schengen/Dublin treaties governing closer cooperation with the EU and making travel between participating countries easier.