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Switzerland an island for roaming costs

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 15:23
Travelling Europeans planning to use their mobile phones in Switzerland might want to reconsider – and start using a hashtag like #DontCallMeInSwitzerland – starting on Thursday. That is because roaming charges for mobile phone users in the European Union, and soon afterwards for Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, the three other countries in the European Economic Area (EEA), will be able to “roam like at home” under new EU rules for data services, voice calls and SMS. Left out of the deal is non-EU, non-EEA Switzerland, resulting in roaming charges for Swiss mobile phone users and Europeans travellers alike. Here’s a quick glance at what the community of those with Swiss interests need to know: How we got here Many Europeans used to switch off their mobile phones while travelling. More than a decade ago, the European Commission began working to reduce the consumer price of roaming. In 2013, it proposed the legislation to end roaming charges which takes effect on Thursday.  ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss aviation pioneer brings electric flights into present

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:00
Tiny all-electric planes that can take off and land vertically - this sci-fi future is not that far away, and Solar Impulse pilot and co-founder André Borschberg wants a slice of the action. His electric plane start-up is one of dozens of firms worldwide hoping to make electric aviation a reality.  Nine months after touching down from his round-the-world solar-electric flight, Borschberg is on a new mission.  “I’m convinced that we are at a turning point in the world of aviation,” he tells swissinfo.ch excitedly.  The Swiss pilot is returning to the skies with H55 (formerly Hangar 55), a small team of aviation specialists and aEro1, their experimental electric aerobatic plane (see video below). The company he co-founded is betting on a green aviation future (see infobox) and is currently testing the plane at Sion Airport in the Rhone valley. Borschberg and H55’s long-term aim is to build on their unique Solar Impulse expertise to develop electric propulsion technologies - from ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss aviation pioneer brings electric flights into present

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:00
Tiny all-electric planes that can take off and land vertically - this sci-fi future is not that far away, and Solar Impulse pilot and co-founder André Borschberg wants a slice of the action. His electric plane start-up is one of dozens of firms worldwide hoping to make electric aviation a reality.  Nine months after touching down from his round-the-world solar-electric flight, Borschberg is on a new mission.  “I’m convinced that we are at a turning point in the world of aviation,” he tells swissinfo.ch excitedly.  The Swiss pilot is returning to the skies with H55 (formerly Hangar 55), a small team of aviation specialists and aEro1, their experimental electric aerobatic plane (see video below). The company he co-founded is betting on a green aviation future (see infobox) and is currently testing the plane at Sion Airport in the Rhone valley. Borschberg and H55’s long-term aim is to build on their unique Solar Impulse expertise to develop electric propulsion technologies - from ...
Categories: News EN

Does Switzerland need a sovereign wealth fund?

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 10:00
Singapore has one, Norway has one, even Papua New Guinea has one – so why shouldn’t Switzerland also have a sovereign wealth fund (SWF)? The political argument, which appeared to have faded away a year ago, has raised its head once more. Yet another Swiss politician is poised to revive the SWF debate in parliament. Susanne Leutenegger Oberholzer, of the centre-left Social Democrats, has been telling the media that Switzerland needs a fund that can invest in technology start-ups – to protect these future crown jewels from Chinese takeover. Prominent economist, UBS bank’s Daniel Kalt, has also chipped in to the debate with a (slightly) new model for such a fund. He thinks capital should still come from the Swiss National Bank (SNB), but from its annual profits rather than the mountain of reserves it has built up defending the franc. Does Switzerland need a sovereign wealth fund? Economically, perhaps not. The country has long enjoyed steady growth without a SWF, even when the rest ...
Categories: News EN

Does Switzerland need a sovereign wealth fund?

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 10:00
Singapore has one, Norway has one, even Papua New Guinea has one – so why shouldn’t Switzerland also have a sovereign wealth fund (SWF)? The political argument, which appeared to have faded away a year ago, has raised its head once more. Yet another Swiss politician is poised to revive the SWF debate in parliament. Susanne Leutenegger Oberholzer, of the centre-left Social Democrats, has been telling the media that Switzerland needs a fund that can invest in technology start-ups – to protect these future crown jewels from Chinese takeover. Prominent economist, UBS bank’s Daniel Kalt, has also chipped in to the debate with a (slightly) new model for such a fund. He thinks capital should still come from the Swiss National Bank (SNB), but from its annual profits rather than the mountain of reserves it has built up defending the franc. Does Switzerland need a sovereign wealth fund? Economically, perhaps not. The country has long enjoyed steady growth without a SWF, even when the rest ...
Categories: News EN

All the ingredients for a Swiss civil war

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 15:57
Religion, language and a social divide: the conflict had all the elements for an escalation. Now the municipality of Moutier is voting on whether it wants to stay in the Canton of Bern or switch to Jura. This is the last act of the Jura question, which has largely been resolved both peacefully and democratically. "Swiss history did us a bit of a favour there,” says Wolf Linder, nearly 40 years after Swiss voters opted to create a new Canton of Jura in a nationwide vote. The conclusion of the former professor of politics at the University of Bern is a wake-up call. Did Switzerland, which had known nothing but peace within its borders since it was founded in 1848, narrowly avoid a civil war scenario before the historic vote in 1978? This article is part of #DearDemocracy, a platform on direct democracy issues from swissinfo.ch. Like every country, Linder recognizes, Switzerland is marked historically by conflict. Dividing lines were, and continue to be, the trenches of ...
Categories: News EN

All the ingredients for a Swiss civil war

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 15:57
Religion, language and a social divide: the conflict had all the elements for an escalation. Now the municipality of Moutier is voting on whether it wants to stay in the Canton of Bern or switch to Jura. This is the last act of the Jura question, which has largely been resolved both peacefully and democratically. "Swiss history did us a bit of a favour there,” says Wolf Linder, nearly 40 years after Swiss voters opted to create a new Canton of Jura in a nationwide vote. The conclusion of the former professor of politics at the University of Bern is a wake-up call. Did Switzerland, which had known nothing but peace within its borders since it was founded in 1848, narrowly avoid a civil war scenario before the historic vote in 1978? This article is part of #DearDemocracy, a platform on direct democracy issues from swissinfo.ch. Like every country, Linder recognizes, Switzerland is marked historically by conflict. Dividing lines were, and continue to be, the trenches of ...
Categories: News EN

Switzerland’s tourism conundrum

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 11:00
The Alps, lakes, villages and valleys of Switzerland have long earned it the reputation of a touristic paradise. So why are more visitors shunning it now? One thing is certain—the problem has nothing to do with the country’s image. The picturesque cliché of a stable, bucolic, beautiful nation persists, and a visit to Switzerland is on many people’s bucket list. Simon Anholt, a leading advisor of governments who has developed a system to measure national reputation, confirmed that Swiss standing in the eyes of the world remains excellent: the country has maintained a respectable eighth place in his global country rankings throughout the past decade. But such rankings will hardly come as consolation to Swiss hotel owners or ski resorts. Although tourist numbers are increasing worldwide, Switzerland continues to have a hard time attracting the crowds. Figures from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) show that total numbers of arrivals to Switzerland stagnated in the period ...
Categories: News EN

Switzerland’s tourism conundrum

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 11:00
The Alps, lakes, villages and valleys of Switzerland have long earned it the reputation of a touristic paradise. So why are more visitors shunning it now? One thing is certain—the problem has nothing to do with the country’s image. The picturesque cliché of a stable, bucolic, beautiful nation persists, and a visit to Switzerland is on many people’s bucket list. Simon Anholt, a leading advisor of governments who has developed a system to measure national reputation, confirmed that Swiss standing in the eyes of the world remains excellent: the country has maintained a respectable eighth place in his global country rankings throughout the past decade. But such rankings will hardly come as consolation to Swiss hotel owners or ski resorts. Although tourist numbers are increasing worldwide, Switzerland continues to have a hard time attracting the crowds. Figures from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) show that total numbers of arrivals to Switzerland stagnated in the period ...
Categories: News EN

Will the Chinese dragon swallow more Swiss firms?

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 14:21
Greater numbers of Chinese visitors and investments arrived in Switzerland last year and the trend looks set to continue. The hotel industry is rejoicing, but critics fear Switzerland is selling off the family silver. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)  The Chinese multimillionaire, Yunfeng Gao, now owns four hotels in Switzerland, including the Hotel Palace in Lucerne and a four-star hotel in Melchsee-Frutt. The spa hotel Bad Serneus, the Hotel Schützen on Lauterbrunnen and Le Mirador above lake Geneva are also in Chinese hands.  Conservative right People’s Party parliamentarian Hans-Ueli Vogt has warned, “We are selling our know-how to the Chinese.” He recently asked the government to clarify why Switzerland is aiding Chinese global power politics. The list of other Swiss companies now in Chinese hands is growing to include airport services, retailers, watchmakers, commodity traders, manufacturers and hotels. Vogt is not the only Swiss politician to harbour reservations. Others want to ...
Categories: News EN

Will the Chinese dragon swallow more Swiss firms?

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 14:21
Greater numbers of Chinese visitors and investments arrived in Switzerland last year and the trend looks set to continue. The hotel industry is rejoicing, but critics fear Switzerland is selling off the family silver. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)  The Chinese multimillionaire, Yunfeng Gao, now owns four hotels in Switzerland, including the Hotel Palace in Lucerne and a four-star hotel in Melchsee-Frutt. The spa hotel Bad Serneus, the Hotel Schützen on Lauterbrunnen and Le Mirador above lake Geneva are also in Chinese hands.  Conservative right People’s Party parliamentarian Hans-Ueli Vogt has warned, “We are selling our know-how to the Chinese.” He recently asked the government to clarify why Switzerland is aiding Chinese global power politics. The list of other Swiss companies now in Chinese hands is growing to include airport services, retailers, watchmakers, commodity traders, manufacturers and hotels. Vogt is not the only Swiss politician to harbour reservations. Others want to ...
Categories: News EN

From the mountains of Davos to a tiny Texas town

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 11:00
Yvette Meisser left Switzerland intending to move to Mexico, but instead ended up in small-town Texas. Life is very different from the Alps, but she says she could never go back to her homeland.  “We don’t want to go back to Switzerland,” says the divorcée with three young children. “We couldn’t go back”. Meisser, 41, was born in Davos. Today, she’s sitting at a Starbucks in Huntsville, Texas, about an hour’s drive from Houston. She’s using the free WiFi to speak via Skype, since a storm caused a pine tree to fall on the power lines leading into the woods near the small nearby town of Trinity where she and her children live a secluded life. Meisser has gone to all this trouble to share her story because, she says, “if it could help someone muster up the courage to go abroad and start a new life, I’d be happy”. Two traffic lights Tiny Trinity has just two sets of traffic lights, which suits Meisser and her children - Ian, 17, Noelle, 16, and Diogo, 14 - just fine. They share ...
Categories: News EN

From the mountains of Davos to a tiny Texas town

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 11:00
Yvette Meisser left Switzerland intending to move to Mexico, but instead ended up in small-town Texas. Life is very different from the Alps, but she says she could never go back to her homeland.  “We don’t want to go back to Switzerland,” says the divorcée with three young children. “We couldn’t go back”. Meisser, 41, was born in Davos. Today, she’s sitting at a Starbucks in Huntsville, Texas, about an hour’s drive from Houston. She’s using the free WiFi to speak via Skype, since a storm caused a pine tree to fall on the power lines leading into the woods near the small nearby town of Trinity where she and her children live a secluded life. Meisser has gone to all this trouble to share her story because, she says, “if it could help someone muster up the courage to go abroad and start a new life, I’d be happy”. Two traffic lights Tiny Trinity has just two sets of traffic lights, which suits Meisser and her children - Ian, 17, Noelle, 16, and Diogo, 14 - just fine. They share ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss federalism changing with the times

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 10:52
The Swiss model of democracy built around 26 powerful cantons and a relatively weak federal government has given way to a more centralised system, researchers argue in a new book. The researchers say only two principal features – the relative autonomy of Swiss communities, which even have an important say over who can become a citizen of the country; and the possibility of changing laws through citizen-led initiatives and referendums – truly distinguish Switzerland from other federalist systems today. Change has come through rising urbanisation, mobility and globalisation, according to the authors of “Swiss Federalism”, edited by Swiss political science researchers Sean Müller and Anja Giudici. The book argues that Swiss federalism must adapt to the times. But perhaps the most surprising feature of these changes is "the significant process of centralisation" that has occurred in Swiss federalism, which contrasts with popular views of Switzerland as a highly decentralised ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss federalism changing with the times

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 10:52
The Swiss model of democracy built around 26 powerful cantons and a relatively weak federal government has given way to a more centralised system, researchers argue in a new book. The researchers say only two principal features – the relative autonomy of Swiss communities, which even have an important say over who can become a citizen of the country; and the possibility of changing laws through citizen-led initiatives and referendums – truly distinguish Switzerland from other federalist systems today. Change has come through rising urbanisation, mobility and globalisation, according to the authors of “Swiss Federalism”, edited by Swiss political science researchers Sean Müller and Anja Giudici. The book argues that Swiss federalism must adapt to the times. But perhaps the most surprising feature of these changes is "the significant process of centralisation" that has occurred in Swiss federalism, which contrasts with popular views of Switzerland as a highly decentralised ...
Categories: News EN

‘Switzerland wanted its own atomic bomb’

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 17:31
For 40 years Switzerland looked into producing its own nuclear bomb. Artist Gilles Rotzetter has shed light on this hidden chapter of history and says that many answers are still lacking.  Rotzetter’s installation will be on show at Kunstmusem Luzern through August 20. The museum describes his work as “figurative, direct, rough, forceful. One thing they are not is beautiful. In the tradition of Bad Painting, the artist cultivates a shrill to gloomy palette and uses strong contrasts”.  swissinfo.ch: You are currently featured in an exhibition called “Swiss Atom Love”. What is it about? Gilles Rotzetter: I tell the story of the Swiss atomic bomb. One month after Hiroshima, Switzerland decided to build its own atomic bomb. swissinfo.ch: Who was responsible? And was there a secret plan? G.R.: This is the interesting thing. It’s all very well documented. It was partly secret, but partly completely official – there are two parallel stories here. On the one hand, it’s about ...
Categories: News EN

‘Switzerland wanted its own atomic bomb’

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 17:31
For 40 years Switzerland looked into producing its own nuclear bomb. Artist Gilles Rotzetter has shed light on this hidden chapter of history and says that many answers are still lacking.  Rotzetter’s installation will be on show at Kunstmusem Luzern through August 20. The museum describes his work as “figurative, direct, rough, forceful. One thing they are not is beautiful. In the tradition of Bad Painting, the artist cultivates a shrill to gloomy palette and uses strong contrasts”.  swissinfo.ch: You are currently featured in an exhibition called “Swiss Atom Love”. What is it about? Gilles Rotzetter: I tell the story of the Swiss atomic bomb. One month after Hiroshima, Switzerland decided to build its own atomic bomb. swissinfo.ch: Who was responsible? And was there a secret plan? G.R.: This is the interesting thing. It’s all very well documented. It was partly secret, but partly completely official – there are two parallel stories here. On the one hand, it’s about ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss in Texas, high-tech planes and the wolf saga

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 12:00
Here are some of the stories we will feature in the week beginning on June 12, 2017.  Monday  As part of our series on Swiss people living abroad, we profile a woman from Davos who has made a home for herself in small-town Texas – and never wants to return to Switzerland.   Tuesday What does Switzerland need to do to re-up its image as a top-tier tourist destination? As hotel and ski resort owners continue to struggle, some are advocating getting back to basics and “becoming more Swiss again”. Wednesday Canton Valais is making a name for itself in the area of aviation innovation. We look at several key plane projects underway in the region, including one led by André Borschberg, the co-founder and pilot of Solar Impulse. Thursday ​Switzerland has recently invested a lot of money in understanding and managing large volumes of data through several high-profile projects. We look at what these projects actually do, and why they are useful.   Friday Wolves ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss in Texas, high-tech planes and the wolf saga

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 12:00
Here are some of the stories we will feature in the week beginning on June 12, 2017.  Monday  As part of our series on Swiss people living abroad, we profile a woman from Davos who has made a home for herself in small-town Texas – and never wants to return to Switzerland.   Tuesday What does Switzerland need to do to re-up its image as a top-tier tourist destination? As hotel and ski resort owners continue to struggle, some are advocating getting back to basics and “becoming more Swiss again”. Wednesday Canton Valais is making a name for itself in the area of aviation innovation. We look at several key plane projects underway in the region, including one led by André Borschberg, the co-founder and pilot of Solar Impulse. Thursday ​Switzerland has recently invested a lot of money in understanding and managing large volumes of data through several high-profile projects. We look at what these projects actually do, and why they are useful.   Friday Wolves ...
Categories: News EN

How a micro-nation was inspired by Switzerland

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 11:00
The newly emerged micro-nation Liberland wants to take the concept of political self-determination for citizens a few stages further than the Swiss form of direct democracy. The seven square kilometres of land sandwiched between Croatia and Serbia was proclaimed an independent republic by Czech politician Jit Jedlička in 2015. It appears that neither Croatia nor Serbia had officially claimed this small patch of territory following the conflict in the region, making it one of the rare slices of no-man’s-land on the globe. “We want Liberland to act as an example of good governance to all the other countries of the world,” Jedlička tells swissinfo.ch. “In Liberland, citizens will not suffer any unnecessary interference or repression from the state.” Liberland will not impose taxes, state education, marriage laws, welfare (both domestic and foreign aid), a physical banking system or laws saying what citizens can grow in their gardens. Jedlička was invited by University of St ...
Categories: News EN