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Welcome – to a truly European location

Prof. Christa Tobler welcomes you at the beginning of the course and provides an introduction to the course, the team and the course goals.
Hello, and a warm welcome to all of you who are watching this video. We are excited about you are joining us for this course on Switzerland in Europe on money, migration, and other difficult matters. In fact, we are extending our welcome to you from a very special location, namely the Rhine taxi. As you can see, this is a boat that provides transportation on the River Rhine in the region of Basel. Basel University and more particularly its Europa Institute, or Institute for European Global Studies, is where this free online course is produced. As for the River Rhine, it originates in Switzerland and then crosses Europe way up to the Netherlands, where it enters the North Sea.
The famous Dutch painter Rembrandt lived on the Rhine in the city of Leiden. Actually, he was called Rembrandt van Rijn, Rembrandt of the Rhine. The River Rhine links several European countries. So, you can see we are here in a very European location. Indeed, Basel is part of an important border region that links parts of France, Germany, and Switzerland. And that is very much at issue in our course. Of course, we are aware of the fact that if you do not live in Europe, it might, at first sight, seem rather exotic to do a course on such a subject.
However, if you have followed the media headlines in the past months on issues such as money and migration, you will have realised that even from a global perspective, Europe is very relevant in this context, and Switzerland is right in the middle of what happens in Europe. So, there are many interesting issues to be learned and discussed in our course, and we would like to congratulate you on your choice! That was a refreshing tour on the River Rhine. Back in our studio, let us address the Swiss-European relationship a little bit further. We have said that Switzerland is in the middle of what is happening in Europe.
At the same time, the position of Switzerland is somewhat special because the country is not part of integration projects such as the European Union or the European Economic Area. Yet, Switzerland is fully surrounded by countries that are part of such projects. On this map, you can see the geographic position of Switzerland in Europe. On the following map, you see the European Union or EU. At present, it consists of 28 Member States. In fact, four out of Switzerland’s five neighbours are EU Member States namely Germany, France, Italy, and Austria. Our fifth neighbour is one of Europe’s very small states, namely Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein is part of the European Economic Area, or EEA, which includes all EU Member States and three non-Member States, namely Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Norway. Switzerland is not part of the EEA but instead of a much older treaty that in economic matters links it to Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Norway namely, the EFTA. So, you can see that Switzerland finds itself in a rather special situation. In fact, some take the implications of this very far. For example, there is a German knowledge website which explicitly asks the question of whether Switzerland belongs to Europe, by which it obviously does not mean Switzerland’s geographical location but something different.
Whatever your opinion on this question might be at the beginning of our course, your educators look forward to exploring with you the implications of the particular situation of Switzerland with respect to issues that are of global importance such as migration and taxation. So far, you have watched this video as it was first used in the course that we ran in 2016. If you are very observant, you will have realised that on our maps, Great Britain is still depicted as a member of the European Union.
In fact, we prepared the second course run in March 2019. At this point in time, it was impossible to predict when and under which circumstances the withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union will happen. At the same time, the so-called Brexit is not the main focus of our course, although it might be very interesting to compare the situation of Switzerland with the British search for a new relationship with the European Union.
We therefore have decided in March 2019 to leave the course videos as they are as far as EU membership is concerned. And we apologise if in September 2019 you find representations on our maps that are not depicting accurately the actual situation. We shall be happy to adjust everything for a next course run when certainties have once again returned. This obviously just concerns the videos. In the text, we shall make every adaption as soon as possible. At this point, I am happy to introduce myself. I am Christa Tobler, Professor of European Union Law in Switzerland at Basel University and also in the Netherlands at Leiden University.
The legal relationship between Switzerland and the European Union has been a particular focus of my work for some time. As for my nationality, it is Swiss, as might be guessed from my family name, which is known in many parts of the world because of its connection to delicious Swiss chocolate. However, my task here is not that of an ambassador for Swiss chocolate or of other aspects of my country. Rather, it is that of lead educator in our FutureLearn course together with my assistant. Assistants at universities do change, which is why we will introduce the assistant working with me for this course in the text rather than in this video.
We look forward to working with you in this course and to hearing your inputs. Once again, a very warm welcome.

The University of Basel welcomes you to ‘Switzerland in Europe: Money, Migration and Other Difficult Matters‘.

Though located in the heart of Western Europe, Switzerland is not part of integration projects such as the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). Fully surrounded by countries that are part of such projects, Switzerland finds itself in a rather special situation. This course explores a number of challenges faced by Switzerland with respect to issues that are of regional and even global importance, such as migration and taxation.

As you go through this course you might want to view the profile of your fellow learners, and follow them to keep track of their comments. We also recommend that you follow the educators Christa Tobler and Sebastian Meyer. Thus you will be able to see all the comments they make. Mentoring will take place from 30th September 2019 to 11th November 2019.

Thank you also very much for all your comments in the welcome area. We appreciate that you exchanged your views and opinions and hope that our course stimulates further discussion and exchange between you and other learners.

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Switzerland in Europe: Money, Migration and Other Difficult Matters

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