Switzerland-EU: time to act

“Switzerland faces major economic policy challenges,” said Christoph Mäder, president of economysuisse, at the economics summit’s annual press conference held today in Bern. Indeed, European policy has been in crisis since the negotiations on the framework agreement ended. The gradual erosion of the bilateral route harms Switzerland as a place of business. “Now is the time to act,” said Christoph Mäder, calling on the Federal Council to take swift action to unblock European policies and ensure the viability of the bilateral path. In addition to the clear signal from the government to follow the bilateral path, we need a common agenda with the EU, based on common strategic interests.

As a matter of priority, Switzerland must quickly find solutions in the fields of stock exchange and banking, medical technology, research and electricity supply. It is also essential to clarify the institutional aspects, as companies urgently need legal certainty in their economic relations with the EU. In the eyes of economysuisse, one could envision sectoral solutions associated with a global agreement aimed at regulating market participation. As the export economy is most affected by the current European policy blockage, the framework conditions for multilateral trade need to be improved – by systematically developing the network of free trade agreements or participating in free trade zones. Asia-Pacific region for example. economysuisse published these proposals and many other ideas related to Switzerland’s relations with the EU this morning in a new publication on European policy.

Christoph Mäder again mentioned the international tax reform of the OECD/G20 member states, which he also described as a major challenge. This reform aims to limit tax competition. Economic circles are relieved that the Federal Council has already announced the main features of the plan to implement this reform in Switzerland. On that basis, the minimum taxation should come into effect on January 1, 2024. The design in question offers the companies involved legal certainty and protects them against additional tax assessments abroad. According to Christoph Mäder, companies expect the Confederation and the cantons to use their financial and legal leeway to boost the economy. Measures are essential to permanently protect jobs and the tax base in Switzerland. “You have to show creativity and courage,” Christoph Mäder told the Confederation and the cantons. He cited the abolition of the emission stamp duty in the February 13 plebiscite as a simple and effective means of increasing the attractiveness of the economic center.

New impetus for the economy’s climate program

The climate program for the economy, presented a year ago by economysuisse, is getting a new impulse. By promoting the Science Based Targets (SBTi) initiative, the economy will reach its net-zero emissions target by 2050. In doing so, it will continue its efforts to provide the most innovative power and the most effective in terms of climate protection.

The idea behind the SBTi is simple: if global warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees, only a certain amount of greenhouse gases can be emitted worldwide. With the SBTi, any company can set science-based climate targets and decide for itself how quickly it needs to reduce its emissions to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Companies thus achieve their climate goals from autonomously, competitively and without legal requirements, all the while up the value chain. SBTi is a globally standardized method widely recognized by experts for assessing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To date, more than 60 Swiss companies have taken over this initiative. The number of companies setting climate targets based on the SBTi is growing almost exponentially, both in Switzerland and internationally.

In the coming twelve to twenty-four months, economysuisse will refer to the SBTi in its internal and external communication, so that as many companies as possible are convinced of this scientific approach. To this end, the federation works together with industry associations and affiliated Chambers of Commerce and with Go for Impact, an association that brings together players from economic and scientific circles and governments.

Other collaborative projects for the implementation of the climate program are under development. The collaboration between economysuisse and NZZ Connect is already at work and has resulted in the creation of the Sustainable Switzerland platform, dedicated to sustainability. Interested companies and organizations can already find information there at the SBTi www.sustainableswitzerland.ch/sbti and arrange a free initial meeting with experts in the field of climate and energy. The Swiss economy thus reaffirms its constructive role in favor of climate protection.

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