TISA free commune Zurich

mw. On 28 October, a clear majority of 83 to 39 voters agreed to a postulate of the Greens that Zurich “be declared a TISA free zone so as to send out a message” in the Zurich City Parliament. In addition, the Zurich City Council (executive) is to examine what legal options against the agreement it may have (for example, a complaint against the Federal Council). Several MPs pointed out that with the TISA agreement virtually the entire public service (for example, health care, education, energy) would be relinquished to the free market. Since the TISA agreement would restrict the municipalities’ democratic options, they would be directly affected and therefore would have to speak up for themselves (see. “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” of 29 October 2015). With this the city of Zurich, the most populous city of Switzerland, is taking a bold step. It is to be hoped that other communities will follow, with the result that Switzerland’s well-functioning federal structure with its inherent principle of subsidiarity will once again be on the radar of all, including  the executive on the top level (namely that of the federation). The duties of a well-functioning and citizen-friendly public service are namely first of all down to the communities (municipal autonomy). All along that citizens in their capacity as the sovereign have arranged matters of public policy in an exemplary way, as for instance the supply of drinking water and energy, elementary schools, waste disposal, the fire department, health care, and much more.  What overcharges the powers of the individual community is solved in special purpose associations with other municipalities, and only in case this proves to be too much to handle does the canton take over. Only the national tasks of the public service such as the SBB (the federal railways) or the national road network (the motorways) are – in accordance with the Federal Constitution – a federal matter. To add a remark in parentheses, it should be mentioned critically here that the federal authorities increasingly run the public service sectors assigned to them for cash and have even partly surrendered them to the open market: So post offices are closed, peripheral bus and train lines thinned out, and train tickets are becoming ever more expensive. Bearing in mind the bedrock of the federal regulations for the public service in Switzerland the urgent question arises: Why does the federal government assume the right to get in touch with the great powers USA and EU with respect to trade in services behind the backs of communes and cantons and without informing us citizens comprehensively and in detail and asking us whether we want all this? At any rate it is good to know that from now on there will be TISA free communes – may many unicipalities follow in the footsteps of the City of Zurich!     •

TTIP: Admission of cars from the USA would involve risks for Europeans

For that matter the car industry on both sides of the Atlantic wanted their research study to show that the mutual endorsement of their standards under the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TTIP) would be no problem. Up to now, cars from the United States have had to be inspected to verify wether they met EU standards, and vice versa. The entrepreneurs in the automobile industry hoped to make real savings with TTIP, because these controls would then disappear.However, now it has become apparent that US American cars are less reliable than European ones. As reported by the British «Independent», car manufacturers have tried to conceal this because they did not want to boost the opposition to TTIP: “… the research actually established that American models are much less safe when it comes to front-side collisions, a common cause of accidents that often result in serious injuries.” research study co-author András Bálint from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg told the newspaper. “The research showed that trade negotiators would potentially be putting lives in danger by allowing vehicles approved in the US to be sold in Europe and vice-versa.” Obviously, TTIP critics are quite right in fearing that the agreement is “a whitewash blueprint for companies that put profits before the welfare of their customers.”

Source: St. Galler Tagblatt online from 3 October 2015

(Translation Current Concerns)