Switzerland’s integration in Europe and the country’s bilateral accords with the European Union are the key issues dominating the Swiss abroad conference in Lausanne this weekend.This content was published on August 6, 1999 - 12:42
Switzerland’s integration in Europe and the country’s bilateral accords with the European Union are the key issues dominating the Swiss abroad conference in Lausanne this weekend.
About eight hundred Swiss abroad signed up for this year’s conference, which lasts until Sunday and includes an address by Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss.
About 60 percent of the 560,000 Swiss abroad live in Europe – a fact which explains the conference goers’ keen interest in the bilateral accords.
The broad agreements were signed by both sides earlier this year but still have to be ratified by the parliaments of all 15 EU member states and Switzerland.
The accords cover economic and technical cooperation, public procurement, mutual acceptance of diplomas and licences, agricultural trade, aviation issues, road and rail traffic and the free movement of people.
With regard to the latter, there is a clear discrepancy between the Swiss abroad and those living in Switzerland.
While the Swiss abroad generally welcome European membership and the free movement of people from one member state to another, the idea has caused some concern among the people within Switzerland, since many fear the country will be flooded by cheap labour from abroad.
This, critics say, could lead to lower salaries, a lowering of living standards and even result in job losses for Swiss workers.
Rudolf Wyder -- the head of the Secretariat of the Swiss Abroad, which organised the conference – said the accords were crucial.
“Swiss abroad, and especially future Swiss emigrants, will benefit considerably from ratification of this agreement,” Wyder said.
Social security for the Swiss abroad, particularly their participation in the insurance programme operated within the country, was another key issue of the conference, Wyder added.
He said that Swiss citizens living in countries without a “decent insurance programme” wanted to be able to participate in the Swiss domestic scheme.
From staff and wire reports.
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