mw. The EU Commission will – if we agree to the adoption of the EU Weapons Directive – monitor its implementation, as we learn in Félicien Monnier’s article (see box). In the search for the EU directive he cites, one encounters a legislative jungle that is unfathomable for non-EU bureaucrats. Directive 2017/853 of 17 May 2017, which we Swiss are urged to say “yes” next Referendum Sunday to adopt into our legal system, is a new directive “amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons.” The new directive consists first of all of an enumeration und explanation of 33 reasons (!) why the older directive (of 1991) should be changed. Then it is established that the amendments are part of the Schengen acquis, which must be adopted by Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Direct quote Article 36 as sample: “As regards Switzerland, this Directive and Directive 91/477/EEC constitute a development of the provisions of the Schengen acquis within the meaning of the Agreement between the European Union, the European Community and the Swiss Confederation on the Swiss Confederation’s association with the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis (14) which fall within the areas referred to in Article 1 of Decision 1999/437/EC read in conjunction with Article 3 of Council Decision 2008/146/EC“ (7).
If you feel that this deliberately obscure nesting of laws is an incomprehensible bureaucrat’s worm, a little consolation: no reader understands anything here, even an experienced lawyer. The essential of this sentence: There are two other EU directives that apply to Switzerland – who has read them?
After the 37 introductory articles, we come to the content of the new directive, respectively to the amendment of the individual articles of Directive 91/477/EEC. This is because the previous regulation will not be replaced by a new regulation that is clearly numbered, as is customary with the total revision of a law, but rather by the following, for example: “14. The following paragraphs are added to Article 13: (4) […] (5) […]”. You have got a headache; no one – not even an expert – can grasp what is now part of the content of the amended directive. After all, thanks to trained perseverance, the lawyer finally comes up with Article 17 cited above …
What an insane bureaucratic apparatus! It can be assumed that directives and regulations are deliberately formulated, numbered and intertwined in such a complicated way that even experienced readers can never fully understand them. Then you don’t know until afterwards what you’ve got yourself into.
Basic rule for Swiss voters
Never vote in favour of a proposal whose content you do not get to read, let alone understand. Page 46 of the voting booklet says: “The Federal Assembly of the Swiss Confederation […] decides: Art. 1 The exchange of notes of 16 June 20173 between Switzerland and the European Union concerning the adoption of Directive (EU) 2017/853 amending Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons is approved. […]”
How many National Council and Council of States members have read the monumental construction? Incidentally, Article 17, cited by lawyer Félicien Monnier, was in the daily press a few days ago. The fact that opponents have noticed this naturally annoys the EU turbos: because now it is on the table that the Brussels monitoring centre will regularly monitor our weapons law and further tightening up to its liking – if we do not say “no” on 19 May. The media spokeswoman of the Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) commented: “Nobody can say today whether adaptations will actually take place and in what form.” (St. Galler Tagblatt of 17 April) Excactly! •
The proponents of the reform of the weapons law argue that the status of the Swiss soldier remains unaffected, that the sport marksmen hardly experience any restrictions and that the adoption of the EU directive will in fact not change anything in our law.
Firstly, this increasingly common argument must be denounced, which claims that a reform imposed by international law „ wouldn‘t change“ our own law. Those who use this argument are targeting the part of the population that is sufficiently indifferent to politics and does not read the texts. In reality, a law reform consisting of new texts and new concepts always changes something.
The reasoning is misleading because the EU Weapons Directive itself provides for its own development: “By 14 September 2020, and every five years thereafter, the (European) Commission shall submit to the EU Parliament and to the EU Council a report on the application of this Directive, including a fitness check of its provisions, accompanied, if appropriate, by legislative proposals concerning, in particular…”. (New Article 17 of Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons).
In other words, in a year and a half we will already know what changes Switzerland will have to make to its legislation. Let us stop boasting about the concessions allegedly made by our negotiators. They are only temporary, not only because of the mechanism for adopting the Schengen acquis, but above all because of the mental gap between the objectives of the EU and the reality of shooting habits in Switzerland.
Source: La Nation n° 2120, 12.4.2019
(Translation Current Concerns)
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