Home | Feed aggregator | Sources

Swissinfo EN

Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
News and information from Switzerland about Switzerland: direct democracy, education, science, business, living in Switzerland and a lot more – current, informative, in depth and in 10 languages (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Russian).
Updated: 11 hours 54 min ago

New Swiss budget airline launches fundraising

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 09:27
A Ryanair pilot and three other industry veterans hope to raise at least $100 million (CHF96.9 million) in Switzerland this week to launch a low-cost, long-haul airline that defies the economic forces which have grounded some small European carriers in recent months. The new airline — as yet unnamed — will focus initially on serving North America, and expects to undercut larger, established carriers with a cut-price service from Basel airport, on Switzerland’s border with France and Germany. The founders believe their business model will avoid the problems which hit other carriers. Their move comes just weeks after the collapse of SkyWork airline, which served European destinations from Bern airport, Switzerland. The past 18 months have also seen Air Berlin file for insolvency, the collapse of UK budget airline Monarch and of Belgium’s VLM. The Basel project — which has yet to decide on its branding but is using the working title “Swiss Skies” — could launch in mid-2019 if ...
Categories: News EN

Large Hadron Collider blows out ten candles

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 08:03
Protons and champagne corks were exploding just outside Geneva ten years ago as scientists celebrated a new era of particle physics. We look back at the successful launch of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and key milestones of the biggest scientific experiment in human history.  On September 10, 2008, the LHC, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), was started up and an inaugural beam of protons was successfully guided around the 27-kilometre (16.7-mile) ring of superconducting magnets, deep beneath the Swiss-French border.  It was a landmark achievement for the thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians who had spent decades planning and building the colossal underground machine, which seeks to unlock the secrets of modern physics and answer questions about the universe and its origins, recreating conditions just after the so-called Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago. The $10 billion (CHF9.6 billion) ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss-based traders scramble to adapt to sulphur shipping cap

Sun, 09/09/2018 - 17:00
It may not have a maritime coastline, but in the coming years, Switzerland will be on the front line regarding measures intended to make sea-bound transport greener.  After the signing in 2015 of the Paris climate agreement, shipping, together with aviation, was largely left out of pledges set by the United Nations members. The argument was that its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could not be attributed to any specific nation. “The view was that the sea is large and one could go on polluting. This view is very clearly coming to an end,” explains Giacomo Luciani, a professor specialising in commodities trading at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. Maritime transport is expected to see emissions increase by as much as 250% by 2050, with the greatest rise in consumption in emerging markets, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). That would considerably grow shipping’s share of total GHG emissions from the current 3%. In April, the IMO – a specialised agency of ...
Categories: News EN

Sex trade, climbing cows and teaching the deaf

Sun, 09/09/2018 - 12:00
Here are some of the stories we'll be following the week of September 10: Monday Prostitution is a legal business in Switzerland, but not everybody agrees with this. The NGO Women’s Centre, has raised the issue with a novel video shot in Sweden, using Swedish actors to point out that the sex trade has been forbidden in the Scandinavian country for 20 years. Tuesday The government is urging voters to reject an initiative calling for stricter ecological and social standards for food production. But is it right when it says that Switzerland already produces half of all the food it needs? We crunch the numbers in a fact check of the government’s claim. Tuesday We’re going big on the food initiatives this week with a couple of unusual angles on the issue. We take a look at how Swiss cheese is sold in the United States and the udderly spectacular tale of a quarter of a million cows that take an annual hike of up to 2,000 metres up Swiss mountains in order to produce ...
Categories: News EN

Welcome to the Drone Valley

Sun, 09/09/2018 - 11:00
Switzerland has emerged as a leader in the research and development of drones. Insiders talk about a "Drone Valley" between the Federal Institutes of Technology in Lausanne and Zurich, which is home to 80 startups in the field. What are the factors driving their success? And how are we going to avoid chaos in the skies? "This is the best place in Europe to be working on robotics and making your ideas a reality," says Przemyslaw Kornatowski. "In this area, we are really good; so much so that there are firms leaving the USA to join us here in what we call 'Drone Valley'," says Maximilian Boosfeld. Both men are the founders and heads of startups in Switzerland. Kornatowski is producing a drone surrounded by a protective cage for transporting small parcels. Boosfeld heads Wingtra, a company of 45 staff members that in 2017 produced a specialised drone for cartography and surveying. Innovation conquers the market Wingtra’s drone was developed as part of a research project at the ...
Categories: News EN

Emergency room visits and a sexual health survey

Sat, 09/08/2018 - 17:00
Almost every article published by swissinfo.ch contains a percentage, an age, an amount of money or some other figure. Here’s a round-up of the most interesting statistics to appear in the past week’s stories. Monday 54 The percentage of leading Swiss newspaper articles on Muslims since 2015 that have been about terrorism and radicalisation. The figure comes from a University of Zurich study, which also found that just 2% of articles about Muslims dealt with “positive” topics like successful integration and everyday life. Tuesday 1,700,000 The number of emergency hospital admissions in Switzerland in 2016, according to a survey by the Swiss Health Observatory (OBSAN). That means that 14% of the population visited the emergency room at least once during the year – but rates of admission varied widely between cantons. Wednesday 300 The number of victims in Switzerland who have come forward to report sexual abuse within the Catholic Church since 2010. On Wednesday, the Swiss ...
Categories: News EN

Helping Swiss adults who are illiterate

Sat, 09/08/2018 - 14:00
Events are being held around Switzerland on Saturday to mark the 30th anniversary of the 'Read and Write' association, whose courses have helped 25,000 adults. September 8 is also International Literacy Day. According to UNESCO, International Literacy Day celebrations have taken place annually around the world since 1967 "to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights".  The Swiss Reading and Writing Association says that despite Switzerland's advanced education system, 800,000 people still struggle to read and write and around 400,000 have problems with simple calculations. The small Alpine nation has a population of around 8.5 million.  Most illiterate people in Switzerland have completed compulsory education but have missed numerous classes. Others have simply lost the basic skills through lack of practice over the years. Some 30,000 of those with difficulties live in canton Valais, southwest Switzerland, where the department of ...
Categories: News EN

Switzerland's legendary horse racing track - in pictures

Sat, 09/08/2018 - 11:00
The "Schachen" is considered the most beautiful horse racing venue in Switzerland, attracting some 7,000 spectators a day in summer. There are four race days per season at the Schachen, located in the northern Swiss city of Aarau - two in early summer, two in late summer. The "Trotter Championship", endowed with prize money of CHF40,000, is the main event on the third day at the Schachen. In total around CHF105,000 is paid out per day, spread over seven races. The Schachen club needs sponsors to cover the prize money and maintenance of the track and infrastructure. The club also generates income from other events, such as an open-air cinema. An automated irrigation system keeps the track green, even during hot, dry summers like this past one. The afternoon begins with two pony races jockeyed by young riders. Young spectators are particularly keen on betting, alongside the older regulars. Whether they bet on "Chérie", "Mai Thai", "Sing-Sing" or "Les Sables Blancs" is of ...
Categories: News EN

Is part-time work viable while studying at a Swiss university?

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 17:00
With one of the highest living expenses in the world, Switzerland can be a drain on the finances of international students. We compare the potential for part-time work with the US and UK. In our previous article we compared the cost of living for university students in Switzerland, UK and US and offered a few money-saving tips. However, it is not always possible to cut corners. Expenses like accommodation, food and transport can be minimised but not eliminated. What is a student to do?  Part time work is one option to tilt the financial balance in your favour. However, there are several things to consider: whether international students are allowed to work, class schedule, coursework and assignment load, flexible working hours, and minimum wage. Some institutions like the Federal Institute of technology in Lausanne (EPFL) counsel against taking up a job as it could interfere with studies. “With a weekly schedule of 50-60 hours, it is difficult to reconcile studying and ...
Categories: News EN

What is federalism?

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 11:00
In Switzerland, state power is spread over three levels: the federal government, the 26 cantons and the 2,222 municipalities. This system of federalism guarantees Swiss diversity. Political scientist Sean Müller researches this lifeline of democracy in a small but heterogeneous country. What does someone from Appenzell have in common with someone in Geneva? What connects the people of Ticino with those from Thurgau? Little more than the red Swiss passport. Switzerland is a country of many languages and cultures. Federalism allows the cantons and communities to maintain their diverse identities while ensuring that Switzerland as a country does not fall apart. In Democracy Lab, #DearDemocracy’s video series, political scientist Sean Müller from the University of Bern explains how the interplay of the three levels of government works, and highlights some of the sticking points. He also compares Swiss practice with federalism in other countries.
Categories: News EN

Uncensored report on arms exports reveals shortcomings

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 17:00
Regulations for exporting weapons are easy to exploit and the Swiss authorities approve almost all export requests for war materiel. These are some of the findings of an unredacted report by the Federal Audit Office (FAO) obtained by Swiss public television, SRF.  The report, carried out by the FAO on behalf of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the economics ministry, shows that almost 99% of export applications were granted in 2016. In addition, when it came to checks in critical countries, only a few of the weapons delivered could be verified.  The fact that SRF’s Rundschau news programme received the document in its entirety and unredacted was “regrettable”, FAO director Michel Huissoud told the Swiss News Agency. He said leaking the confidential report was a criminal act and those responsible could be prosecuted.  According to the report, in 2016 the Swiss government rejected only 29 applications with a value of CHF17 million ($17.5 million). This ...
Categories: News EN

A cancer diagnosis a long way from home

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 17:00
What happens when a foreigner in Switzerland is diagnosed with a serious illness, a long from home and the normal support network of friends and family? More than 40% of Geneva's residents are non-Swiss and many of them speak English. Those who are diagnosed with cancer can find it hard to understand their treatment options when dealing with French-speaking healthcare professionals. Set up in Geneva in 2000, ESCA CancerSupport aimed to help cancer sufferers who are struggling with language issues. Raynelle Arcaini, one of the organisation's three counsellors, stresses that there is no overlap with the work of the local authorities, "We don’t have to take over things such as house cleaning and meal preparation because social services provide excellent services to in-home patients." ESCA's trained volunteers accompany medical visits to help people stay focused when important things are being said, or to translate and clarify medical details. Often the volunteers just sit and chat ...
Categories: News EN

How expensive is Switzerland for a student on a budget?

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 11:00
While Switzerland may have relatively low university fees, living expenses can take a toll on a student’s budget. But is it pricey when compared to the US or UK?  A common question for most international students is “How much should I budget for my studies?” It is relatively straightforward to get an idea of tuition fees by contacting universities but living expenses are trickier to pin down. The reason being there are so many variables involved.  In Switzerland, prospective international students applying for a visa or permit must give authorities guarantees that they can cover the financial costs associated with their studies. To help students estimate what these costs might be, several universities provide a breakdown of average living expenses in their region. A quick scan of select schools across the country suggests budgeting between CHF1,500 and CHF2,800 (($1,535 and $2,866) a month.  As far as the UK is concerned university websites are a good guide to local living costs.
Categories: News EN

Switzerland named among biggest losers in expat survey

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 09:00
Switzerland is now the 44th best country to live as an expat, sandwiched between Ireland and Hungary, according to an annual survey which highlights the challenges and cold realities of life in the Alpine nation.  Let’s start with the good news. In the InterNations Expat Survey 2018, published on Thursday, Switzerland once again did particularly well in political stability (2nd out of 68 countries), quality of environment (3rd), travel opportunities and transportation infrastructure (4th), children’s safety (5th), peacefulness (6th) and personal safety (9th).  The bad news is that the impressions of expats living in Switzerland have worsened across all five indices: quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, family life and personal finance.  + Who is an expat? Searching for a definition “Switzerland has lost 40 places over the past five years. That’s a big decline,” admits Malte Zeeck, the German founder and co-CEO of InterNations. “I think the biggest reason is the ...
Categories: News EN

Syrian civil society meets in Geneva to discuss peace

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 17:46
With Syria’s war still raging and official peace talks at an impasse, a quiet peace initiative is continuing in Geneva. The Civil Society Support Room, backed by the Swiss and other governments, is seen as a new approach to UN peace and mediation processes.  Room I in the Palais des Nations in Geneva can take up to 71 people. It is wood-panelled, with large tables arranged in a square. The chairs are set so close together that you almost touch your neighbours.    It is here that people like Syrian journalist Belal and peace activist Asma (not her real name) meet at the invitation of the UN to talk for a few days about their country’s future. “We want to strengthen the role of civil society as a bridge-builder,” says Salvatore Pedulla, a senior official at the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Syria (OSE). He says one of the main aims is “to get the Syrian parties that are negotiating in Geneva and the broader international community to hear civil society’s voices and ...
Categories: News EN

Swiss-EU relations are at a ‘dead end’

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 17:00
​​​​​​​ German journalist Steffen Klatt takes a sober look at the state of relations between Brussels and Bern in his new book “Blind im Wandel. Ein Nationalstaat in der Sackgasse” (“Blind to change. A nation state at a dead end.”)  swissinfo.ch: Since 2014, Bern and Brussels have been in talks to formalise relations, now covered by around 100 separate accords. Do we really need the so-called institutional framework agreement under discussion?  Steffen Klatt: Switzerland has reached a dead end, whether the framework agreement is successful or not. Switzerland doesn’t want to belong to the EU, but it wants to take part in the European single market. It has to abide by the rules that apply, but it has no voice in shaping these rules. This problem is now 30 years old.  In 1989, when European Commission President Jacques Delors proposed establishing a European Economic Area (EEA), he conceded that EEA countries could also participate in shaping the rules. Switzerland went into the ...
Categories: News EN

The Swiss valley turned into an artists' playground

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 17:00
Swiss and international artists have transformed the landscape along the length of a valley in southeastern Switzerland. For a second time, this corner of Switzerland has become a canvas for the 'Safiental Art Biennale'. Here is a selection of the artwork. 1. Pulpit in the pines (Bergkanzel by Com&Com) The Bergkanzel (Mountain Pulpit), allows different views down into the valley, as it did in its last visit to the 2016 Safiental (Safien valley) Art Biennale. It is perched above the River Rabiusa, 25 km north in an old quarry. A footbridge at the rear of the construction leads the way. The Swiss artists who created the work, started collaborating in 1997. Marcus Gossolt and Johannes M. Hedinger live and work in Zurich, St Gallen and London. 2. Silver and stones (Safiental-Karrette by H.R. Fricker) H.R. Fricker's work is composed of 16 stones. They were removed from their natural habitat in the Safien valley and have taken on a new life indoors, transformed into placemats ...
Categories: News EN

Geneva’s property shortage continues to fuel exodus

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:14
Despite the construction of thousands of new homes in Geneva, the lack of property for sale continues to lead to an exodus of people to neighbouring canton Vaud and France. This has negative consequences for the local economy and transport, a Credit Suisse study reveals.   With its high salaries and standard of living, Geneva is a victim of its own success and every year attracts thousands of people to live and work. But finding a place to live can be a headache. Few people – 18.5% of residents, half the national average of 38.2% – own their homes in Geneva; the rest rent.  The tiny canton at the western end of Lake Geneva, surrounded on almost all sides by France, has always suffered from an acute housing shortage – places to rent and buy – with demand far outstripping supply. And according to a recent survey by Credit Suisse, the situation is not getting any better, especially in the “affordable” housing-to-buy segment, and it has unwelcome consequences.  The report states ...
Categories: News EN

A seat at Switzerland's table

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:00
When cooking and sharing food is part of fitting into Swiss life.
Categories: News EN

Delicate dance between Swiss multinationals and Trump

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 17:00
You asked. We answered. swissinfo.ch reader Rob Benz asked us what multinational companies in Switzerland think of Trump. The answer: it’s complicated. Swiss companies are uncomfortable with US President Trump’s brash style, but they aren’t so quick to dismiss his policy aims, especially on trade. In 2016, swissinfo.ch reported that the election of Donald Trump and his protectionist rhetoric caused some unease among Swiss companies. Martin Naville, chief executive of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, told swissinfo.ch at the time, “the election result is certainly not good news for Swiss business…If the US starts to adopt a protectionist trade strategy, Switzerland would certainly feel the knock-on effects and suffer damage”. Fast forward two years and much of Trump’s rhetoric has become reality. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is defunct, the US trade dispute with China is escalating by the month, and negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement is pitting ...
Categories: News EN