OpinionCarlo Sommaruga – PS Member of the Government , Christian Luscher– PLR national adviser
A federal decree on the European Border and Coast Guard Corps Frontex was the subject of a referendum, which resulted in the vote scheduled for May 15 next time. Switzerland’s annual financial contribution to the mechanism and the criticism that Frontex has raised on the ground are helping to boost the debate. Our guests explain their reasons for voting yes or no.
Internal security, external monitoring
Under the acronym “Frontex” is Switzerland’s adoption and implementation of the EU regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard as well as an amendment to Swiss asylum law.
Being a member of the Schengen area greatly facilitates the freedom to move around Europe, and we all enjoy the comfort of traveling (almost) all over Europe without control and hassle, but the price to pay is continuous and effective border protection. part of our security policy.
To this end, the revision adopted by the Federal Assembly proposes improvements in two respects: firstly, with regard to the effectiveness of (i) control at the external borders with a view to better targeting the fight against cross-border crime and (ii) repatriation; of persons to leave Swiss territory; then regarding voluntary return assistance, in particular through the issuance of travel documents.
It must also be emphasized that the adoption of “Frontex” leads to an improvement in the fundamental rights of the most vulnerable people and better protection of refugees recognized as such; for the sake of order, the amendment to the law on asylum was adopted unanimously by the Council of State. In such a sensitive area, this is nothing. To ensure the security of the external borders, which is more necessary than ever given the world we live in, by 2027 Frontex will be a permanent corps consisting of a maximum of 10,000 permanent agents. Switzerland’s participation in Frontex is not new, although so far it has been on a voluntary basis. From now on, it is based on the law, and until 2027, our country has planned to hire 16 experts for 2-year contracts and 39 others for short-term assignments (four months). Staff will be provided by the Federal Customs Administration and SEM. Switzerland has also reserved the right to reassess needs in 2023.
Participating in security in the Schengen area (where the Dublin agreements on asylum apply and provide a great service to Switzerland, which has to process fewer applications) has a price. Switzerland already contributes 24 million a year; it will increase to a maximum of 61 million in 2027. This is a proportionate participation, with our neighbors contributing much higher amounts.
Protecting Europe’s borders improves our internal security. It is evidence that only the left does not see, dazzled as it is by its anti-military and anti-security dogmas. Her protests sound really hollow at this time, especially because they prevent the entry into force of the strengthening of the rights of the most vulnerable refugees, which she nevertheless claims to be defending. Finally, we will note the duality of the socialists who, on their website, are in favor of EU membership and at the same time are fighting its rules when it comes to participating in their security policy.
A non-humanitarian and European
Switzerland and the EU share the values of respect for international law, the rule of law and human rights. Russian aggression against Ukraine highlights this community of values. This imposes on all Swiss and European institutions a duty to respect them. It is clear that Frontex, the group of border guards in the Schengen area, is far from fully respecting these values in its daily activities.
The hermetic closure of borders with coastguards, walls, barriers and pushbacks is forcing those seeking protection the path to irregular migration. It is for this reason that the majority of the European Parliament called for the reform of Frontex. It also supported the creation of a human rights commissioner in Frontex. But it was not enough. Thus, in October 2021, the European Parliament refused discharge to the Frontex Agency and suspended 90 million euros from the 2022 budget until there is a clear improvement on the fundamental rights front. The reform of Frontex is therefore imperative. It will take place in Brussels with the active participation of Switzerland.
At home, in Switzerland, instead of mechanically repeating European legislation, we need support measures. In addition, the agreements concluded with the European Union have always evolved through such measures. For the Schengen Association Agreement, we need humanitarian aid measures. This is what Parliament has called for with the creation of a humanitarian corridor that allows the annual resettlement in Switzerland of 4,000 vulnerable people with the right to asylum to prevent them from facing the dangers of migration routes and the deadly passage of the Mediterranean . These humanitarian measures were rejected by the bourgeois parties. What is at stake in the referendum is therefore not European policy or Switzerland’s membership of Schengen, but respect for our humanitarian values and the right to asylum through the adoption of accompanying measures, a strict domestic policy.
The Federal Council claims that if the ruling is rejected, Switzerland would be expelled from the Schengen area and our security would be threatened. That’s completely false. In fact, our country is already late in notifying the EU of the resumption of the Frontex regulation. In 2017, it even announced a resumption of Schengen development three and a half years late! The Federal Council had been forced to present a new message to Parliament. However, Switzerland is still linked to the Schengen area … In fact, with a refusal by Frontex, Parliament could already consider a new decree respecting human rights as well as the right to asylum during the summer session, thus reassuring the ‘European Union.
A no to Frontex on 15 May is a responsible action and in line with Switzerland’s humanitarian and European policy.
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