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Report blames lack of leadership for failure of Expo.01

The report has strongly criticised Expo.01's organising committee

(Keystone Archive)

A report commissioned by the Swiss senate into the failure of the national exhibition, Expo.01, has blamed the management's lack of professionalism and the absence of any critical judgement from politicians. The report recommends that a federal law be passed to define the government's role in future projects of this magnitude.

The embarrassing public debacle over the collapse of the initial project was the result of "irresponsibility at all levels," according to Michel Béguelin, vice- president of the senate committee investigating Expo.01. "Nobody had any idea of the complexity of a project of this kind at the time it was conceived," he added.

Switzerland's national exhibition was due to open its doors in 2001, but has now been delayed by a year and re-launched as Expo.02.

According to the report, published on Wednesday, exhibition organisers "never wanted to admit they were in a state of crisis."

The report is also critical of the government's involvement in the project. It suggests that problems arose because the government's role in Expo.01 was never clearly defined.

"The government didn't give the exhibition a high enough priority," the report claims, "and never really understood what the Confederation's role was in the organisation of the event."

The government's attitude of "polite indifference" to the day-to-day running of the project was also strongly criticised by the report. "The Swiss parliament should have shown more interest in Expo.01 at the preparatory stage."

Expo.02, which is due to open to the public in May next year, has been beset by a series of financial problems. One of its sponsors, the mobile telecommunications company Orange, pulled out of an agreement to host one of the event's exhibitions in February. SAirGroup, the holding company of the national carrier Swissair, also reduced its contribution to Expo.02 from SFr 6 million to SFr 3 million.

The president of the senate committee, Helen Leumann, said structural problems in the organisation were "an obstacle" for next year's exhibition.
Leumann also said that financial resources for Expo.02 remained the "big unknown".

swissinfo with agencies

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