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Justice minister defends Schengen/Dublin costs

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga has defended the higher costs of the Schengen/Dublin treaties, which govern closer cooperation with the European Union.

She highlighted benefits gained by Switzerland, such as fewer asylum applications and police access to a Europe-wide crime database.

Under the Schengen treaty Switzerland abandoned identity checks on its borders; the Dublin accord allows the Swiss to turn away asylum seekers who have already filed a request in another signatory country.

  

Sommaruga admitted that when Swiss voters said yes to Schengen/Dublin in June 2005, the then government – of which she was not a member – had underestimated the costs “conservatively”.

“But there are no suggestions that this was done on purpose,” she said in Bern on Friday, adding that it would have been hard to predict the costs since it was hard to predict how the treaties would develop.

The greatest additional cost has been information technology and computers, although Switzerland hadn’t counted on contributions to the external border fund.

However, Sommaruga urged people not to lose sight of the bigger picture: not all savings from the treaties could be easily quantified since their benefits were hard to assess, she said.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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