Switzerland has not become safer by Schengen

Switzerland has not become safer by Schengen

Interview with National Councillor Barbara Keller-Inhelder

mw. National Councillor Barbara Keller-Inhelder (Swiss People’s Party, Canton of St. Gallen) is rapporteur of the National Council Security Policy Committees (SPC-N) for the state initiatives of the Cantons of Graubünden and Valais to increase the Border Guard Corps.

Current Concerns: On 11 June, your Commission ask the National Council to follow the initiatives, even though the Council of States considered that their concerns had already been met. Why does your Commission take a different view?

Barbara Keller-Inhelder: The problems at the border, such as gang crime, smuggling, irregular and illegal migration, smuggling of drugs or weapons, have not suddenly disappeared, and they have certainly not disappeared forever. The fact that there have been few recent terrorist attacks in Europe is also primarily due to the excellent work of the international intelligence services, which have repeatedly been able to intervene in good time. Of course, it is not the case that all new potential assassins have miraculously melted away. We cannot even disregard downright burglary raids originating from foreign countries and often aimed at border cantons - also with regard to the tragedies that this always means for those affected.
We would therefore do well to continue improving the protection of our borders and to ensure that the agreed measures are implemented. The Security Commission of the National Council considers the main concern of the two cantonal initiatives to be still unfulfilled and therefore requests the National Council not to approve their scrapping. A minority is of the opinion that the approval of 44 additional posts in the Border Guard Corps fulfils the requirements stipulated by the cantons.

Before the vote in July 2005, the Schengen/Dublin Agreement was recommended to us voters as advantageous for Switzerland’s security. Has Switzerland become more secure thanks to Schengen?

Overall, Switzerland has not become more secure. It is true that the Schengen Information System includes perpetrators, criminals or potential terrorists. But due to the inadequate security of the Schengen external borders and the abolition of internal controls, many people cross our borders unhindered. And if authorities such as the State Secretariat for Migration decide that highly dangerous persons who have been detected by the Federal Intelligence Service may remain in Switzerland because they may be threatened with trouble in their country of origin, the system’s registration is of no use to us. As long as terrorists cross our borders unhindered, as long as people in our country become victims of seriously criminal foreign offenders who cross our borders unhindered, there is a need for action. And in this context, strengthening the Border Guard Corps is particularly imperative and urgent.

Let us speak about another important topic of this summer session, the institutional agreement between Switzerland and the EU: the National Council and Council of States Economic Affairs and Taxation Committees EATC have submitted a motion each to their respective Councils with which they intend to commit the Federal Council to additional negotiations with the EU. The aim of the motion is for Switzerland to incorporate conditions and reservations into the agreement in important areas, in order to be able to maintain its sovereignty over EU law and the European Court of Justice to some extent. Is this demand realistic?

It is, unfortunately, hardly realistic. By losing its sovereignty in the areas of immigration, social partnership, labour market, economic and trade policy or energy policy through the agreement, and also losing tax sovereignty and having to expose itself to the Citizens of the Union Directive, Switzerland relinquishes direct democracy. And as long as the Institutional Agreement would be the cause of all this, it is unacceptable for Switzerland. Unfortunately, I can hardly imagine that all this can be renegotiated and improved.

Thank you very much for the interview, Ms Keller-Inhelder.

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