Globalisation, the breakdown of society, and the climate are the main tests facing Switzerland between now and 2011, according to a report released on Friday.This content was published on April 20, 2007 - 16:41
It said the ability of the economy, society and institutions to adapt to these challenges would be increasingly put to the test in the future.
Drawn up by the federal administration's strategy unit, the report - published every four years - aims to identify what are likely to be the most important topics for the government in the years to come.
Globalisation was high on the report's agenda. To respond to this, political harmonisation across the sectors was necessary, it recommended.
The pace of world development and an increase in international competitiveness were major challenges for the country, added the report.
Switzerland must therefore maintain its competitiveness and continue its policy of economic growth in order to keep up, said the authors.
The report suggested that productivity could be increased through know-how and added that salaries and jobs needed to be guaranteed. It pointed out three groups most at risk – older workers, people trying to balance family and work, and those with low income.
Another proposal was that financial policy should be made more long-term than the current four-year forward planning cycle.
A further challenge was social cohesion, which the report said was being shaken by the ageing population and by integration questions.
By 2050, it is estimated there will be one older person for every two people of working age. At present this figure stands at one to four.
The report therefore called for the social security system to be amended to take into account demographic changes and to avoid placing too much of a burden on future generations.
The integration of foreigners was flagged up as an extremely important topic.
"Understanding and mutual respect of different cultural groups living together in Switzerland are essential for the country's cohesion," said the report.
It added that factors hindering integration needed to be identified, with particular attention paid to foreigners being integrated into the working world. Efforts should be made to promote national language learning and end discrimination.
Environment was the final worry for the future. The report called for a stop to environmental destruction, as well as for a reduction in the use of non-renewable sources of energy and the risks from natural disasters. It also urged sustainable use of resources and the countryside.
The federal administration said the government had taken note of the report's proposals.
The cabinet will present its political priorities during the next legislative period at the beginning of 2008.
swissinfo with agencies
The "Challenges 2007-2011" report underlines the main challenges facing Switzerland over the next four years.
It is drawn up by the federal administration's strategy unit every four years.
The government has yet to give its full reaction to the proposals.