Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA)
98th Congress of the Swiss Abroad 2022 in Lugano
Globalisation, migration, data protection, increasing digitalisation, exercising political rights, ensuring the rule of law, the Covid-19 pandemic and possible future pandemics: how is the democratic system of Switzerland reacting to the current challenges? Where does it need to reform? How can we ensure Switzerland's unique democratic basis is preserved as we are exposed to increasingly supranational political, economic and financial forces?
Personalities from the fields of politics, economics and science will try to provide answers or reflections on these and many other questions.
Mark the weekend of 19 to 21 August 2022 in your agenda and visit us in Lugano!
All conference information is available on the SwissCommunity.org website >
Winter meeting of the Council of the Swiss Abroad
On 27 November 2021, the newly constituted Council of the Swiss Abroad met online and discussed key topics such as the exercising of political rights and the banking issues.
Following its reconstitution and the election of the new president in August 2021, the Council of the Swiss Abroad met online for its winter meeting. The first part of the meeting was dedicated to discussing the current and future positioning as well as opportunities and chances of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, SwissCommunity.
One important question started a discussion:
How can the exercising of political rights of the Swiss Abroad be simplified? SwissCommunity is committed to the specific needs of Swiss nationals living abroad and develops possible measures for better meeting these needs. In the round of discussions, Michele Malizia from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA, Barbara Schüpbach-Guggenbühl from the Cantonal Directors’ Conference and the Martin Maeglin from the Swiss postal service will express their viewpoints.
The aim is to work with the stakeholders involved to determine an efficient procedure and to take viable steps towards simplifying political participation.
2021 CSA Conference
The Council of the Swiss Abroad met twice in August 2021 virtually, replacing the planned conference in Lugano due to the pandemic. It was the first meeting of the 2021-2025 legislature and the Council members had to be ratified.
The following core topics were addressed during the conference:
All Swiss abroad now have the option to receive the vaccine in Switzerland. Regarding the vaccine certificate, Laurent Wehrli (FDP/PLR) announced that it should now be relatively easy to obtain a Covid certificate if vaccinated with a vaccine approved by Swiss authorities (Moderna, Pfizer). Parliament is currently working on the acceptance of other vaccines (AstraZeneca and others) together with Swissmedic and the Federal Office for Public Health to allow a facilitated access to a Covid certificate. More information will follow in due course.
Andreas Feller-Ryf underlined the flaws in the current voting process with voting material being delivered too late. The OSA published an official statement in 2019 asking the confederation to introduce an e-voting system for the federal elections in 2023, and urged all cantons to adopt appropriate legislation to ensure the introduction of an e-voting system by 2023.
Andreas Feller-Ryf inquired about the progress for the option to make voluntary OASI/AHV/AVS payments for all Swiss citizens post-Brexit. Currently only Swiss citizens who moved to the UK after 1 January 2021 have this option. It was understood that the problem is on the task list of the embassy.
New community platform swisscommunity.org
By launching the new community platform for the Swiss abroad, swisscommunity.org, the OSA hopes to better connect its community abroad with a modern, digital offering.
New initiatives from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)
A new digital application for the Swiss abroad is currently being tested with different representations around the world to improve information flow and service. The FDFA is also working on a new concept together with the ASO to better support expatriates leaving and returning to Switzerland.
Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) Spring 2021 Meeting
The Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) met today, 20 March 2021.
Normally we meet in the Rathaus in Bern for our spring meeting. One year ago the March 2020 CSA meeting was one of the first cancellations due to the pandemic (Covid it is now lasting over a year). The meeting was well organised - so just another zoom meeting on a Saturday.
From a UK point of view: UK delegate
delivered the final report of the task force on representativity of the organisation of the Swiss Abroad which now has procedures how to elect its delegates from all Swiss Abroad in their respective countries.
was leading a task force on representation of the Swiss Abroad in national parliament and their report was presented by one of his colleagues.
97th OSA Congress Montreux Autumn 2019
98 Delegates from all over the world assembled for the meeting of the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), chaired by the OSA president, Remo Gysin. The Congress started with a video created by our UK delegate Nathalie Chuard, showcasing delegates of the CSA.
The main topics on the agenda were e-voting and the framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU.
Our UK delegate Vincent Croset also gave an update regarding his working group which sought to put in place a permanent representation of Swiss abroad in the National Council. Whereas the current Parliament does not seem to agree with this idea, there is hope that the new Parliament that will be elected this October will be more open about this question. Meanwhile, the group will explore other paths to make the voice of the Swiss abroad heard in Parliament.
OSA further decided to support its members who are candidates for the coming National Council elections in September 2019.
You can view the recommendations here: https://www.aso.ch/fr/politique/elections-2019/recommandation-electorale
Swissinfo has also announced that it has released a new app, called SWI plus, and which can be downloaded from the Apple store or Google Play.
Our own delegate, Franz Muheim, participated in the electoral roundtable, in his function as candidate on the Green Liberal Party list (Zurich) in the upcoming National Council elections. He was joined by representatives from the Socialist Party, the Greens, the CVP, the BDP, the FDP and the SVP.
The afternoon discussions were around the topic of “What world for tomorrow?” with Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis (Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland) giving the opening speech (pictured below). The topics discussed covered a range of futurefocused issues including climate change, tourism in the numeric era, and the future of work.
Of note here as well that Vincent Croset presented on the “Human of tomorrow”, where he gave a very interesting presentation regarding the future of mankind in the age of genetic engineering.
At the next OSA Congress in Autumn 2021 in Lugano, the new representative CSA Delegates will be introduced and start their 2021 - 2025 term.
Keep an eye out for the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) Delegates Elections taking place - the UK's elections will run from the 30th November 2019 - 19th June 2021 where the elected UK Delegates will be ratified at the FOSSUK 2021 AGM.
Find out more about the UK CSA Delegates' Elections on our dedicated elections page >
UK Delegates in action - voting at an OSA Congress.
Furthermore, SwissCommunity also tackles the many differences and obstacles in the field of banking. SwissCommunity is also aware of and represents the requirements of the Swiss Abroad in relation to this topic and is familiar with the various challenges. The Council of the Swiss Abroad discusses the topic with representatives from the banking sector and is focused on developing efficient and fair solutions.
This is the new Council of the Swiss Abroad for the legislative period 2021 - 2025.
Information about the meetings is also available via Twitter: on the SwissCommunity channel @SwissCommunity and with the hashtags #ASRSitzung and #SéanceCSE.
All meetings of the Council of the Swiss Abroad are listed the website.
Holocaust memorial in Switzerland
The ASO started the initiative to build a holocaust memorial in Switzerland. The steering committee includes the Jewish community and various historians. The project has grown in size and will not only include a memorial, but will be a place of education, information and in a broader context address themes such as democracy, human rights, freedom of the media, and treatment of minorities.
Representation of the Swiss abroad in parliament
Constantin Kokkinos (delegate, Greece) presented the progress of the work group ‘representation of the Swiss Abroad in parliament’. Although more than 10% of Swiss citizens reside abroad, there is currently no Swiss abroad candidate directly represented in parliament. In a survey conducted by the work group amongst 246 Swiss politicians, only 35% were favourable towards the representation of Swiss abroad in parliament. The result shows that the political climate is not yet ready for such a significant change.
Following the decision of the Federal Council not to pursue negotiations to form a bilateral framework agreement with the EU, first consequences have already emerged such as the Erasmus student exchange programme and substantial funding of research by the Horizon 2020 programme being suspended. Franz Muheim underlines that by hampering access to education and movement of Erasmus students, we risk lowering the high quality of education that Switzerland currently offers. The ASO has passed a resolution expressing its deep concern about the failed negotiations and asking the confederation to work on a clear and transparent strategy to secure the rights of the Swiss living in the EU or planning to in the future.
UK CSA delegates present at the Spring 2021 CSA Meetings:
Have your say
Discuss issues to raise and representation with one of our UK Delegates to the Council of the Swiss Abroad.
The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) held it's 97th Congress from the 16th to 18th August 2019 in the beautiful lake-side city of Montreux in Vaud.
The UK was represented by Franz Muheim (also member of the Executive Committee of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad), Sarah Grand-Clément, Nathalie Chuard, and Vincent Croset.
CSA meeting of 23 March 2019 in retrospect
On 23 March 2019, the delegates of the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) met for their six-monthly meeting at the City Hall in Bern. This short video summarises the main items on the agenda of the meeting.
Watch the video in German: https://youtu.be/lzfkUooMFcs
Watch the video in French: https://youtu.be/M2DTOGZ578k
Watch the complete live stream recording:
96th Congress of the Swiss Abroad
The Organisation of Swiss Abroad (OSA) held its 96th congress from the 18th to 20th August in Visp, surrounded by a beautiful mountain panorama. The UK was represented by our elected Delegates, Franz Muheim (also member of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad committee), Nathalie Chuard, Loredana Guetg-Wyatt and Vincent Croset. The videos remain available to watch on OSA's our YouTube channel.
97 delegates from all over the world assembled in Visp for the constituent meeting, chaired by the OSA president, Remo Gysin. The main topic on the political agenda was Evoting, followed by an update on the discriminatory banking practices impacting the Swiss abroad.
Lobbying for the nationwide implementation of Evoting is one of the top priorities of OSA. Currently over 750,000 Swiss live abroad, but only 170,000 have registered to take part in the votes and elections in Switzerland. At the moment, only 9 cantons (BS, GE, LU, BE, NE, FR, AG, SG and TG) allow the electronic vote. We are currently experiencing some head winds in the parliament. Critics are concerned about security and a number of parliamentary initiatives have been submitted that might block the progress on Evoting. The delegates of the Council of the Swiss abroad approved in this meeting the launch of an online petition calling for the introduction of Evoting within three years.
Regarding the topic of Bank accounts for the Swiss Abroad, it has become apparent that there are no easy solutions as all parliamentary moves have failed. As communicated at the AGM in Belfast, it is possible for Expats to open Bank accounts at affordable cost at the Geneva Cantonal Bank. If you have taken advantage of this, please send us any (positive or negative) feedback in order to report back to the OSA.
Some interesting developments initiated from our UK delegates:
- The proposal of Franz Muheim’s working group to integrate virtual groups (eg Facebook groups) into OSA has been approved. This is a great achievement and another step forward in modernizing the OSA by reaching more (and probably also younger) Swiss Abroad through Social Media.
- Vincent Croset presented his proposal for a permanent representation of Swiss Abroad in the National Council (such as many other countries already do). There has been a lively debate around this interesting idea and the Council agreed to create an official working group. The working group is expected to present at the next council meeting a proper due diligence and feasibility assessment.
Switzerland’s relations with the European Union have been at the centre of the Congress on Saturday. The keynote speeches of Roberto Balzaretti (Head of the Directorate for European Affairs in the Swiss ministry, picture) and Michael Matthiessen (the EU Ambassador to Switzerland) gave some indications of the delicate situation for both sides about the future of the bilateral accords. Please find the recording of their talks here: https://bit.ly/2MPcSdB. The negotiations are still ongoing and we eagerly await their outcome.
Brexit was mentioned on numerous occasions and it was noted that Berne is closely following what’s happening here in the UK. For further information about the so called “Mind the Gap” strategy, please visit the website of the Embassy: https://bit.ly/2MPcSdB
2018 UK Delegates' Reports
What is OSA?
The Organisation for the Swiss Abroad (OSA), is an independent organisation which is recognised as the advocate of the interests of the Fifth Switzerland.
Organised by the OSA, the Congress of the Swiss Abroad is the annual meeting of the Swiss citizen living all around the world. During this meeting, they have the opportunity to renew with the Swiss current information, to discuss on special themes and to exchange in a friendly atmosphere their own experiences. The Congress is held in German and French.
This Congress takes place each year in August, in a different area of Switzerland, and some 500 compatriots from the whole world come each year to this event. Visits, entertainment and meeting with the authorities and local population are also part of the programme.
Editorial Office "Swiss Review"
Association for the Promotion of Education for Young Swiss Abroad (AJAS)
educationsuisse (formerly: Committee for Swiss Schools Abroad)
Foundation for Young Swiss Abroad (FYSA)
More information is available on the OSA website: www.aso.ch
The OSA Management Team
OSA is organised and run by a highly motivated and skilled team permanent administrative team, the Secretariat for the Swiss Abroad (SSA). Below are the individuals we have previously had the pleasure to meet at our FOSSUK AGMs. You can see a full list of the team on the official Swiss Community website >