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Press review Stories making the Swiss Sunday papers

Swiss interior minister Alain Berset spoke to the press about the new pension reform package last week.

( KEYSTONE / PETER KLAUNZER)

The Sunday papers bore positive news regarding Swiss relations with the EU, particularly on immigration issues, as well as reactions to parliament’s recent acceptance of a pension scheme overhaul.

People warming to ‘light’ immigration solution

The “light” version of the Swiss government’s answer to an anti-immigration initiative, which parliament voted in December to implement without immigration quotas, appears to have been relatively well accepted by the Swiss. According to a survey by the GfS Bern Institute, which was reported by German-language newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, 57% of citizens would approve of the government’s solution if they voted on it today. But only 51% are truly satisfied, while 38% say they were dissatisfied with the solution. Sixty percent of those surveyed do not expect the new scheme to limit immigration significantly, and 57% still think that a more radical solution would have been possible. On the other hand, 58% think that preserving bilateral accords with the European Union is more important than implementing the anti-immigration initiative, which was put forward by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, to the letter.

Brussels concessions

Also on the subject of EU negotiations, the SonntagsZeitung newspaper reported Sunday that the Swiss cabinet wants to get a more precise idea of negotiations with the EU by June, determining which topics are particularly important for Switzerland and which can only be unblocked by a framework agreement. The German-language paper, citing a policy decision on the future of bilateral relations, said that Brussels conceded that the EU would agree to restrict the power of the European Court of Justice to European law within a framework agreement, and regulations negotiated between Switzerland and the EU would no longer be submitted to the court. In the event of disagreement, Brussels no longer talks about suspending bilateral accords, but requires appropriate compensatory measures.

Support for pension reform

Former social democratic cabinet minister Ruth Dreifuss has expressed her support for the reformed old age pension scheme that was accepted by parliament on March 16. “The system has been blocked for 22 years, and now it is unblocked," she said in an interview with newspaper Le Matin Dimanche. Dreifuss, who became the first woman to hold the role of Swiss president in 1998, introduced the nation's last pension reform plan in 1995. She noted that while for many women, the increase of the retirement age from 64 to 65 years is “a disappointment,” the reform packaged is still “balanced” and “still offers [women] many compensations”. Dreifuss maintained that rejecting the reforms will do nothing to advance progress towards equal pay, and that it is general inequality, rather than the increased retirement age, that is truly problematic for women. “It is the differences in wages, the fact that women continue to see their burdens increase between work, family and other activities,” she told the French-language paper.

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