Staying competitive with the strong franc

An “avenir special” following the Swiss National Bank’s 15 January decision

It is mainly companies that are being challenged by the strong franc. But Swiss economic policy must now also confront the task of taking up long overdue – and familiar – improvements to Switzerland’s attractiveness as an investment centre. The latest “avenir special” sums up its findings in 10 propositions.

Capital and Capital Taxes

Facts & Figures on Wealth in Switzerland

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, discussion about disparities in wealth and about capital taxes has gained new momentum. In recent years, numerous cantonal and federal referendums have been proposed with the aim of raising taxes on capital. But how is wealth in Switzerland actually distributed? And to what extent is capital already taxed? Economist Marco Salvi answers these questions in the latest «avenir standpunkte» publication.

The Referendum

More democracy through greater focus

Not just the number, but also the success rate, of referendums has increased notably of late. But hardly any of the referendums approved have been implemented in the full spirit of their initiators. To stop the most important instrument in Switzerland’s direct democracy turning into a farce, reforms are urgently needed to improve the effectiveness of referendums while preventing their abuse.

Bad marks for Switzerland’s willingness to reform  

Edition of DA CH Reformbarometer 2015

The 2011-2015 legislative period has been disappointing for liberalisation. Avenir Suisse’s latest “D A CH Reform Barometer” shows 2014 marked another step backwards.

Impetus for Switzerland

Activity Report 2014

The core business of Avenir Suisse is thinking – using our intellect to build a positive framework for Switzerland. Individual freedom, private ownership, competition, open markets and democratic politics are essential for stimulating growth and prosperity. Good framework conditions always leave room for new ideas, with the emphasis on creativity and competition rather than controls and constraints. This attitude shapes the way we tackle all the issues.

Privacy and the Net

The new avenir spezial encloses a poster on big data

A new "avenir spezial" on privacy, data protection and the net examines the significance of data protection and data security in everyday life. It asks what lessons can be learned from the leaks by Edward Snowden, the fugitive former NSA contractor, and aims to answer what have become central questions in our relations with the internet.

Employment for the elderly in its infancy

Seniors as trump cards against skills shortages

In the latest in Avenir Suisse’s “avenir standpunkte” series, project leader Jérôme Cosandey focuses on the potential for using older workers. Seniors approaching, or just past, statutory retirement age could expand the workforce by 10,000s, avoiding the politically sensitive issue of immigration and quotas. Polls show that some 57% of workers over 60 would be prepared to continue beyond official retirement age if the conditions were right.

Citizens’ state and state-minded citizens

The “militia” system between myth and modernity

Volunteering, that pillar of Swiss politics, is crumbling. Avenir Suisse’s new book illustrates Switzerland’s “militia” system of political volunteering in its full breadth, from municipal to cantonal to federal level, and proposes reinvigorating the “militia” system with a “civic service for all.”

Of old and new privileges

How the cantons sustain monopolies instead of supporting markets

Switzerland’s federal system devolves activities as diverse as fishing, notarial work, property insurance and geothermal exploration to the cantons. Avenir Suisse’s sixth Cantonal Monitoring study, “Of old and new privileges”, reveals big room for improvement in such public sector incursions into the free market, both in terms of extent and design.

Avenir Suisse’s Freedom Index: Aargau still on top

An interactive initiative to compare civil and economic freedoms in Switzerland’s cantons

The 2014 Avenir Suisse interactive Freedom Index shows Aargau holding its lead at the top of the cantonal table. But there have been some changes in mid-field especially, prompted largely by deteriorating cantonal finances.

More Subsidiarity rather than sham Solidarity

An Appeal for Reform in the EU

Even if the EU crisis has ebbed a bit recently, the problems have by no means been solved. A return to long term growth remains unlikely without further budgetary consolidation and improved competitiveness in many member states. On the invitation of Businesseurope, Avenir Suisse, together with think tanks from Germany, Poland and Turkey, has studied practicable reforms.

Media subsidies in the digital age

How to reform public service media without distorting competition or technological progress

How Switzerland subsidises its media is an anachronism. With its specific focus on print, radio and television, the present system hinders structural change and distorts competition. Avenir Suisse’s new discussion paper proposes reforms, ranging from short term measures against excessively expanding the SRG (Switzerland’s multilingual public service broadcaster, also increasingly active on the internet, ed) to longer term steps to subsidise content, rather than Technology.

Switzerland’s foundations poised for a new start

Bringing sponsorship up to date

Switzerland’s 12,900 non profit foundations play an important role in the country’s culture, research, education and healthcare. Since 2000, their numbers have risen by 60% while management has become more professional and activities more transparent. But, revealing weaknesses as well as strengths, Avenir Suisse’s latest study suggests further improvements, including consolidation, reforming cantonal supervision, changing the legal status of foundations to avoid abuses and introducing a register.