Monday, 29 April 2013

Switzerland News

As can be seen from the diagram on My Favourite Wiki, Switzerland is not a member of the EU but in 2000 it signed the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons with the European Union. (Reports the Independent on Sunday)



It's not clear why they would sign that since Swiss citizens appeared to be able to move freely without it, but there must have been some reason at the time.  Perhaps in those balmy pre-9/11, pre-banking-crisis days it seemed like a good idea. Switzerland's majority trade is with the EU so it makes sense not to annoy the customers.  However, it also looks like a surreptitious way to try to get the Swiss to agree, de facto, to something they had already voted against.

Just in case of trouble, there was a safety-clause written in giving the Swiss state the power to restrict entry via a permit system but even that power will lapse.   However, for the moment it has been invoked, capping the numbers of people who can come in to Switzerland from certain states.   As wth all EU-related matters, the power is hedged about with conditions, categories and implementation dates, making it take effect slowly and incrementally.

But the overall pattern is clear: these levels of immigration are not acceptable to the Swiss people and the government has reacted to that.  Since the complaint is reported by the Independent as immigration pushing up house prices as a result of business expansion and Switzerland being a very attractive place for businesses to relocate, it can be assumed that the squeeze is being felt by middle-class voters.  The BBC however, reports this as if the concern is about the influx of lower-paid workers

The doctrine of free movement of people is good for the businesses and the individuals who move to secure better conditions for themselves.  However, the doctrine takes no account of the way this also imposes a disbenefit across the rest of the society. Demands for infrastructure: transport, housing, policing, health services and education rise. These have to be paid for by existing taxpayers who may then find they also face greater competition.  Benefit is privatized, the wider costs nationalized.  There can be good reasons for doing that, such as the general benefit of education, but the costs should be recognized properly instead of pretending they don't exist.

The Swiss mode of government includes regular use of referenda.  It is therefore arranging two of them to find out exactly what people - their citizens, not other folk and especially not Germans - want their government to do.

7 comments:

JuliaM said...

"The Swiss mode of government includes regular use of referenda."

But then it DOES have a much smaller (and more 'law abiding' and socially committed?) population.

Woman on a Raft said...

True. The Scotland vote next year is going to be interesting. That's a comparable population.

DtP said...

I can't understand why people don't conflate housing 'crisis' and immigration. And it's not so much housing anyway, it's errant fathers using their families as shields.

Not a great fan of the Swiss. Think they're cheap. Craig Murray's good value if you've got a tea break. Uzbekistan has just moved in.

Saw the Whitby Goth fest in the Daily Wail and the commentards were lovely. Rare indeed!

Woman on a Raft said...

Alas I could not get to the April Goth fest. Mr Raft has a theory - he says that Scarborough wants to authorise the potash mine to make a mess of the Esk valley, get the extra money and then, when Whitby is spoilt, force everyone to go to Scarborough for their holidays.

call me ishmael said...

I always felt that the late Peter Cook was a little over-rated, never cared for all that Derek and Clive and EL Whisty stuff, funny voices saying bizarre things, all seemed a bit Goon-ish and they, God knows, were over sold, no matter what the Prince of Wales imagines, in his imaginary world.

But the film he made, the Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer, with startling accuracy pre-figured the stage management of politics by, initially, His Grace The Lord Mandelstein of Rio de Janeiro and New Labour - the news management and the recurring soundbite, and since then by all sorts of reprobates, Campbell, Coulson and the rest. In the film, though, Rimmer decides that only total people-involvement will properly serve his megalomaniacal purpose and so the people are consulted, respected, given referenda on absolutely everything until that's all they're doing, is voting in fucking referenda, when they could be down the pub. And so, of course, the national appetite for plebiscitia, referenda and consultationalia is slaked. People are up to theur arses in being consulted about everything under the Sun and so the natural order of things resumes; their betters tell them what to do and the referendum instead of being a promise, becomes a threat.

For that film and for bringing the divine Lenny Bruce to the UK, Peter Cook deserves our thanks and respect.

That midget pianist, though, Dudley Moore, wouldn't piss on him if he were ablaze in my drawing room.

Woman on a Raft said...

I shall look out for the film, Mr Ishmael. Scotland, best part of England is due for the next big one next year, I thought?

call me ishmael said...

It's just the tribesmen, mrs woar, baring their arses; a symptom of fathomless grievance, although, given an electoral pact between the ukippers and the Tories I may well vote for separation, myself.