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‘Difficult issues’ from the outside perspective

As we all know, the exact same issue can often be viewed from very different perspectives. This is just as true for the position of Switzerland in Europe and for its actions, for example in fields such as taxation and migration.

Switzerland itself tends to see its decisions in these fields as a legitimate way to pursue, defend and safeguard the interests of the country. For example, limiting immigration is seen by some as necessary in order to keep the country’s infrastructure functioning. Another example is having an attractive corporate tax regime, which means that more companies move to Switzerland, thereby creating employment and bringing income into the country. However, others may take a rather different view of the same issues. Instead, they may talk about tax havens, uncooperative jurisdictions and xenophobic attitudes.

In the following, you will find a number of links to media reports that reflect a more critical view of Switzerland and its position in Europe. We invite you to choose at least one of the links below and to read the relevant text against the background of this question:

In your opinion, are the points of criticism raised in the texts particular to Switzerland or could they also relate to other European countries?

Please report back your findings by leaving a comment. It might be a good idea to refer first to the article(s) you chose and then summarise your findings in a few words. Please react also to the findings of other learners. We look forward to a lively discussion!

Note: when reading the texts, do take into account that journalists may have their own particular motives, and therefore choose to take a particular point of view.

  1. ‘Switzerland threatens EU immigration quota’.
  2. ‘Swiss democracy and xenophobia: Need for more open debate’ (a somewhat longer text).
  3. ‘Switzerland criticised for confiscating cash, valuables of migrants before allowing them to enter’.
  4. ‘Switzerland offshore tax deal criticised by MPs’.
  5. ‘Tax avoidance: UK effort to collect from assets hidden in Switzerland fails’.
  6. ‘Classification of Switzerland as an uncooperative jurisdiction’ (question by a member of the Parliament of the European Union).

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This article is from the free online course:

Switzerland in Europe: Money, Migration and Other Difficult Matters

University of Basel