The facilitation of the naturalisation of the third generation of migrants by 60.4% ov Swiss votes is far from being a revolution, and even less an open door policy .This reform aims at simplifying the administrative procedures for the descendants of immigrants wishing to obtain a Swiss passport. The doubt about obtaining a majority of the cantons disappeared as the results fell. Several cantons which had previously refused a similar project – Grisons, Zurich, Valais, Lucerne, Nidwalden – approved the initiative. In French-speaking Switzerland, the proposal was endorsed by all cantons.
The beneficiaries of the reform – 25,000 young foreigners of the third generation who could benefit from facilitated naturalization, the vast majority were born in a family whose grandparents immigrated to Switzerland to work. Nearly 80% of them come from an EU or EFTA countries: 58% are Italian, 7.7% Spanish and 4.8% Portuguese. To this group will be added an annual average of 2300 children who will be eligible for naturalization.
However, nothing is guaranteed, each canton has to decide upon granting of the citizenship in an individual procedure. The request can be rejected without revelations of the reasons behind the decision.
No good news for the EU this Sunday from the Switzerland. Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected plans to abandon the corporate tax system, leaving startled government in a stalemate confronted with the Europeans critics, attempting to convince rich neighbours to stop the regime of record low tax rates for thousands of multinational companies enjoying tax ‘haven’.
Switzerland agreed with the Organisation for Economic co-operation and development (OECD) in 2014 to change by 2019 the special status, which has been a beacon of attraction for around 24,000 multinationals searching to maximize profits through minimising tax payments. That provision will now remain in place past the original deadline.
Most Swiss voters recognized the country needs reform to avoid being blacklisted as a low-tax pariah. But new measures proposed to help companies offset the loss of their special status had created deep divisions.
Just over 59% of referendum participants – who have the last word under the Swiss system of direct democracy – opposed the plans, which the country’s political and business elite succumbed under international pressure.
The ‘no’ voters took into consideration the opportunity to employ 150,000 staff and contribute half of federal corporate taxes due to this special tax status.
“There are lots of people who are jumping up and down saying ‘Oh, we’ve got this dangerous Frenchman (Barnier – av) in here that’s going to undermine London’,” said Syed Kamall, pro-Brexit leader of May’s Conservatives in the European Parliament. “It’s not like that.
“He’s going to be a reasonable negotiator,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to agree at the end of the day. But I can think of few other people that I would want on the other side of the negotiating table.”
Barnier knows Brexit Secretary David Davis from their time as Europe ministers in the 1990s – part of a vast contact list of people from many walks of life that Barnier has built in four decades since he was elected to parliament aged just 27.
Not all who know Barnier share Kamall’s assurance he can keep talks civil. One City executive said Barnier won “grudging respect” from British negotiators for coming to understand their issues and improving his English. But he also came over as aloof and “patrician”, brusque with his staff and juniors, and “vain”.
Barnier told French newspaper La Depeche he would go into talks “neither naive nor with preconceptions”, and recalled his last major negotiations:
“My strategy was to work with the British and the City … and not to pass laws against them or without them. So although we’re now in a different context, a deal on Brexit is possible.”
Next month the EU leaders will gather in Italian capital , 26/01/2017, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. However, in view of the UK imminent departure, and multiple crises the EU project suffers, one does not expect any opulent festivities. The situation is aggravated by the banking crisis in Italy, considering the departure from the eurozone, and exhausted by invasion of illegal migrants from Africa.
According to the EU officials a new document expected to be signed by 27 EU leaders, committing them to a new concept for the bloc, without the UK. There is also some concern, or even fear of the UK government to trigger the #Brexit article 50 the very same day to overshadow the symbolism of the date.
Initially anticipated as a huge celebration, the event will be reduced to a sober political meeting without red carpets and fireworks. No flamboyant declarations or promises will be made, awaiting the results of French elections in May with Marine Le Pen of Front National leading in polls, promising her electorate a referendum on the EU membership of France in six month after the ascendance to power.
Ahead of the International Day against the use of child soldiers – 12 February -the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini and the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, pledge to intensify their efforts to end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.
“On the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers we jointly celebrate a growing global consensus among UN Member States that they should not recruit or use children in armed forces in conflict and that boys and girls should be protected from all grave violations.” – continued Mogherini.
“Child soldiers are always the victims: forced to combat, often brutally abused, and not rarely isolated when they finally manage to get back to their communities. I met Colombian boys and girls who have managed to quit the FARC’s guerrilla and are now looking at their future with hope”.
“We have the duty to keep supporting them and all the former child soldiers, to give them the chance of a good education and of a place in their societies. At the same time, we will continue to bring forward our engagement in ending the recruitment and use of children by armed forces. Depriving a child of its rights is depriving a society of its future,” – said Federica Mogherini.
The UK departure without a deal as a concept appears persistently in different contexts, approaching the date of the triggering Article 50, promised by Prime Minister Theresa May in March, likely before the Treaty of Rome celebrations on the 27th, but after the Dutch general elections on the 15th. The UK officials do not wish to harm the fragile ties with the EU27, and complicate the situation of one millions of compatriots, chosen the continental Europe as their home.
The hostile rhetoric of the EU high officials, especially the Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission, and the veteran of the EU project, made many politicians and experts to consider the departure without any settlement as a viable option, shielded by the WTO rules.
The perspective of the free-trade agreement with the US, opened after the visit of the PM May to the White House, makes ‘no deal better than a poor deal’ approach a leading trend.
Picture: US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May walking through White House gallery.