Swiss Review 5/2022

Things are worsening for Swiss research – unexpectedly sidelined in Europe The village of the powerful – Ebersecken, the stronghold of rope pulling Heating with oil has no future in Switzerland – yet there are thousands of new oil heaters OCTOBER 2022 Swiss Review The magazine for the Swiss Abroad

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Opening all the windows bright and early in the morning, letting the coolness of the night flood into the house, then closing all the windows again, drawing the curtains and blocking out the sweltering heat of midday. This became a daily ritual for many in Switzerland this summer. According to countless Swiss weather stations, July 2022 was the month with the most sunshine and was also the hottest since measurements began in 1886. Meanwhile, unaffected by the tremendous heat, the glacial period currently reigning between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) continues. The relationship is decidedly frosty. As you may recall, in May 2021, Switzerland broke off negotiations on the future framework agreement for Switzerland-EU relations. It did so on the assumption that this radical step would jumpstart new talks. That was most likely a mistake. So far, we are only seeing the negative impacts of the breakdown of negotiations as they relate to Switzerland, which has been demoted to the status of a third country without privileges in joint European research initiatives. This puts research in Switzerland at a disadvantage and weakens it, as we show in this issue’s Focus (page 4). These new constraints weigh heavily, because Switzerland considers education and research as one of its most important “commodities”. The Federal Council has long been criticised for lacking a plan to repair relations with the EU. At its meeting in Lugano on 19 August 2022, the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) also concluded that the federal government must now act more decisively. The main concern for the CSA is the free movement of persons, which affects the daily lives of 440,000 Swiss living in the EU and which the Council fears is slowly being eroded. The current tug of war between Berne and Brussels resembles a rope-pulling competition in which one of the teams decides it would be a good idea to just let go of the rope for a while in the belief that they will be able to get a good grip on it again afterwards. This strategy probably wouldn’t gain much respect in Ebersecken, Lucerne, where one of the most successful rope-pulling clubs in Switzerland shapes social life (page 12). We stopped by to let the dedicated rope pullers there show us how perseverance and unity are just as important as brute force in this sport. MARC LETTAU, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 4 Focus Swiss research – looming isolation after years of close collaboration 9 News Daily challenges for Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland 10 Images Artist Youri Messen-Naschin plays skilfully with our senses 12 Report A visit to the strong women and men of Ebersecken (LU) 15 Covid-19 The government’s pandemic review is unstinting with self-praise News from your region 17 Switzerland in figures 18 Nature and the environment Oil heating is obsolete. So why are new oil heaters still being installed? 22 Knowledge Expat survey – their ties to Switzerland remain strong even from a distance 24 Notes from the Federal Palace Ambassador Johannes Matyassy takes stock in an interview 27 SwissCommunity news 400 delegates of the “Fifth Switzerland” met in Lugano 31 Discussion The great tug of war Title image: Researcher Thomas Hott performs installation work at CERN, the research centre for high-energy and nuclear physics in Geneva. Archive photo: Keystone (2004) “Swiss Review”, the information magazine for the “Fifth Switzerland”, is published by the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad. Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 3 Editorial Contents

DENISE LACHAT “We’re a small country that has always relied on recruiting foreign researchers,” says Michael Hengartner, President of the ETH Board. According to him, that’s why there is an international atmosphere at all Swiss universities, which is conducive to the integration of people from abroad. Ecosystem for top research Knowledge and education are among Switzerland’s most important resources. This is reflected in its high-performing educational system, first-class infrastructure, Die Angst der Schweizer Forschung vor der Isolation With researchers leaving the country, professors reluctant to work at Swiss universities, and Swiss students feeling disadvantaged, research in Switzerland is experiencing hard times. The reason? An unresolved relationship between Switzerland and the EU. Within the world of European research, Switzerland has become a “third country” without privileges. and universities that regularly achieve the top spots in international rankings. Hengartner describes it as a veritable “ecosystem” that promotes cutting-edge research and has a solid, flexible – yet at the same time competitive – funding system. “Of course, we’re also able to offer excellent working conditions,” adds Martin Vetterli, President of EPFL Lausanne. He goes on to explain how the density of renowned scientists in Switzerland is far above average, which in turn attracts more young talent to the country. Or should that be “attracted”, based on the current situation? The breakdown of negotiations with the EU over a framework agreement has had severe Cutting-edge European research – in Switzerland. Two scientists involved in semiconductor research at the EPFL University of Applied Sciences in Lausanne. Photo: Keystone Swiss researchers fear isolation Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 4 Focus

5 consequences for research. Switzerland was downgraded by the EU to a “non-associated third country” in its research framework programme, resulting in Switzerland losing its previous position and influence within Horizon Europe, the world’s largest programme for research and innovation with a budget of almost 100 billion euros for a period of seven years (2021–2027). Compared to the 79 billion euros backing Horizon 2020, the previous programme in which Switzerland was still an associated partner, the funding has been increased significantly. Switzerland loses its access to the “Champions League” Although Switzerland may not be fully excluded from collaborating with its most important research partner, Swiss researchers are no longer able to lead large joint projects or receive grants from the European Research Council (ERC). Hengartner refers to these ERC grants as the “Champions League of research”, while EPFL PresiSwiss landmark achievements in EU research What concrete results does Switzerland see from the European research funding programmes, and what benefits does it receive from the collaborations? Yves Flückiger, University of Geneva Rector and President of swissuniversities, is ready with his answer. ■ CERN: This research laboratory is the cradle of European research. Founded in 1954 near Geneva on the border between Switzerland and France, it was one of the first-ever joint European projects and today boasts 23 member states. This scientific facility was further strengthened in 1984 by the European research framework programmes. Flückiger: “These programmes played a decisive role in the development of basic research and its integration in industrial applications, in particular by promoting cooperation between laboratories and companies.” Since 2012 and the discovery of the Higgs boson, CERN has been a household name around the world. ■ BioNtech: The first messenger RNA vaccine against Covid-19, which was the direct result of research funded by the European Research Council over the past 20 years, was probably the most outstanding recent result of research transfer. “This vaccine was created by BioNtech, a European biotechnology company whose founders Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, both of whom come from Turkish immigrant backgrounds in Germany, were funded by the European Research Council,” comments Flückiger. ■ ID Quantique: Flückiger cites ID Quantique as another example. It was founded in Geneva in 2001 by four scientists from the University of Geneva, who received key funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) as well as from various European programmes. ID Quantique has now developed from a small spin-off into the world’s leading provider of solutions for secure quantum cryptography. Investors include telecom giants SK Telecom (South Korea) and Deutsche Telekom. ID Quantique has its headquarters in Geneva and maintains close relationships with academic institutions by participating in several Swiss, European and Korean R&D programmes focused on bringing innovation to market. (DLA) The CERN research laboratory near Geneva boasts an enormous facility for researching the tiniest of particles. Photo: Keystone Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5

dent Vetterli can speak from his own experience: “I would not have been able to advance my research in digital signal processing as far as I did without an ERC grant of almost two million euros over five years.” Yves Flückiger, President of swissuniversities, also points out that Swiss researchers are completely excluded from several key areas of research, including the flagship programme for quantum research, which is of strategic importance for driving forward digitalisation; the construction of the international nuclear fusion reactor ITER, where Switzerland has been involved in project management since 2007; and the Digital Europe programme, which focuses on high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and cyber security. The brain drain has already begun According to Vetterli, Switzerland used to be among the most active of the associated countries involved in EU research, especially in the fields of health, environmental studies, climate, and quantum technology. Now, however, it has been sidelined for over a year, despite the financial gartner notes that candidates for professorships at the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology are now all enquiring about Switzerland’s prospects for reassociation in the near future. Switzerland’s prosperity is at stake Working in isolation is unthinkable in the field of research, not to mention the sphere of innovation. As a reaction to Switzerland’s non-association, the renowned Geneva-based company ID Quantique (more information in the box on page 5) has opened a branch office in Vienna to maintain access to Horizon Europe. Flückiger states that the 100 jobs which would otherwise have been created in Switzerland are now in Vienna. In Switzerland’s case, Horizon Europe not only affects its research and the researchers who are worried about their top positions. It efforts of the federal government, which has stepped in with interim funding of 1.2 billion Swiss francs. Vetterli reports on start-ups that originated on the EPFL campus and are now opening offices in Europe to ensure they continue to attract talent and can benefit from European funding, while Flückiger has heard of the first group of researchers who have already left Switzerland for France, Austria and Belgium along with their ERC grants. And HenResearch in Switzerland is more internationally linked than in almost any other country, with two-thirds of the researchers who work in Switzerland having completed their doctorates abroad. Switzerland-EU relationship crisis drags on Roughly a year after negotiations for a framework agreement broke down, Switzerland is making a new attempt to regulate its future relations with the EU. However, the road to finding a viable solution between Berne and Brussels is still long – and marked by mistrust on both sides. Furthermore, there is no broad-based consensus within sight on the home front. A scientific “Champions League”: Horizon Europe is the world’s largest research programme with a budget of 100 billion euros for 2021–2027. Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 6 Focus

After pausing to mull things over, the Federal Council decided in February 2022 to retackle the EU dossier. Instead of an “unpalatable” framework agreement, the government is now relying on a package containing various elements. The aim is to secure access to the European internal market, enable new agreements – e.g. for electricity – and restore associations with EU programmes such as Horizon Europe. Institutional issues, like which jurisdiction has authority in the event of a dispute, would be regulated separately in each case. The crux of the matter is that the EU Commission has so far explicitly refused to consider a procedure that would regulate these fundamental issues “on a case-by-case basis”. It also maintains that the European Court of Justice should be involved in disputes, a proposal that faces strong political resistance within Switzerland. The Federal Council nevertheless hopes there will be a growing realisation at EU headquarters that maintaining the bilateral approach is also in its own interest. Since the spring, Livia Leu, the state secretary responsible for the dossier, has been testing the waters in Brussels. As of press time, several meetings between the negotiators had taken place. Nevertheless, it will probably take some time yet before new negotiations are held at the highest political level. The Federal Council does not want to decide on a mandate until there is “a sufficient basis” for it. So far, the positions are still “wide apart”, as the Federal Council made clear in mid-June. No sign of a thaw yet. also influences students and professors who are suddenly hesitant about coming to Switzerland. And Horizon Europe is also vital for the transfer of technology, which leads to the founding of start-ups and SMEs as well as job creation in companies and the field of research. Essentially, the university representatives all agree that Horizon Europe plays a key role in Switzerland’s prosperity and position as an economic hub. Flückiger believes that the Federal Council should not start focusing on securing new research partnerships outside the EU, since research competition takes places primarily between the EU, the USA and China, which is why Switzerland’s non-association remains the true problem. When questioned, the EU delegation’s response is that Swiss researchers have always been welcome and valued partners in EU research programmes – and they still are. “Swiss researchers are allowed to participate in Horizon Europe projects under the conditions that apply to non-associated third countries. To obtain full association, which includes eligibility for EU funding, the EU regulation requires third countries to enter into an umbrella agreement governing the conditions and terms of association. Further developments on this issue must be considered in the context of the overall relationship between the EU and Switzerland.” The EU is therefore putting pressure on Switzerland to comprehensively define its relationship with its European neighbours. Until then, the EU sees no reason to give Swiss research any preferential treatment. So far, neither the efforts of Swiss diplomacy nor an appeal by researchers have altered the situation. ETH Board President Michael Hengartner states that this situation is not only detrimental to Swiss researchers, but also to European research itself: “This is unequivocally a lose-lose situation.” Overshadowed by the 2023 elections Within Switzerland there is no consensus on how to proceed with the EU issue either. The parties are trying to outdo each other with their own strategies and action plans – while at the same time lamenting that no progress is being made in finding a solution. In the view of political analyst Fabio Wasserfallen, professor of European politics at the University of Bern, the fact that the Federal Council is not moderating the debate conducted in Switzerland more forcefully is evidence of a leadership vacuum: “Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between domestic and foreign policy.” According to Wasserfallen, the task of reunifying these two should fall to the Swiss government. “The package must be broadly accepted at a political level if it is to have a chance in a referendum.” If this is achieved, the Federal Council could use realistic models to demonstrate how Swiss interests would be safeguarded and any concessions well mitigated. “To accomplish this, the committee would have to agree on a common approach and follow it through in the longer term.” Yet the more time that passes, the more the tendency will be to wait for the federal elections in autumn 2023, concludes the political analyst. Depending on how the different parties fare, the cards will be reshuffled as the new government takes shape. “Ideally, however, there should still be opportunities to discuss the pros and cons of the Federal Council’s EU plan before the elections.” This would make everyone show their hand in the coming election year. THEODORA PETER Testing the choppy waters in Brussels: Swiss State Secretary Livia Leu. Photo: Keystone Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 7

National Bank posts loss of 100 billion francs The Swiss National Bank (SNB) reported a loss of almost CHF 100 billion in the first half of 2022. This was the SNB’s biggest loss in its over 100 years of existence. Falling shares and interest-bearing securities were the primary cause of the decline, which was forecast by experts. A loss of this magnitude is of particular concern to the cantons and federal government since part of the SNB’s earnings is distributed to them. It is still unclear what the record loss means for the anticipated distributions. (MUL) Tough fight against fighter jets The Swiss military intends to purchase new Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets from the USA for six billion francs. However, a popular initiative signed by 103,000 people in mid-August aims to prevent this. The petition’s initiators believe the government’s choice of jet is unsuitable and too expensive. The initiative puts the Federal Council in a quandary, because the US government’s purchase offer for the aircraft is only valid until the end of March 2023, but time constraints mean it would be almost impossible to put the initiative before voters by then. Not putting the initiative to a vote at all, however, would be problematic for democratic policy. (MUL) Geneva Motor Show cancelled for fourth time The Geneva International Motor Show will not take place in 2023, either. This is the fourth time in a row that it has been cancelled, with the first cancellations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, organisers are blaming the global economic situation and geopolitical uncertainties. Whether the show, which usually attracts well over half a million visitors each year, still has a future is becoming increasingly unsure. The motor show is also facing an uphill battle because climate change is altering the perception of the car as a status symbol – it now has connotations other than absolute personal freedom. (MUL) Dying fish in Swiss rivers The sustained extremely high temperatures this summer are leading to dry riverbeds and warmer lakes in Switzerland. The result is a fish fatality rate of “historic proportions”, as the Swiss Fisheries Association warned in mid-August. Water temperatures of over 25 degrees become life-threatening for many fish native to Switzerland, such as trout. (MUL) Kambundji sprints to EC 200-metre gold “Sprinter Mujinga Kambundji is aiming high” was the headline in July’s “Swiss Review”. In the meantime, the 30-yearold from Berne celebrated another glorious moment when she won gold in the 200 metres at the European Championships in Munich in August. She also took silver in the 100 metres after missing out on gold by a hair’s breadth. In an interview with the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, the popular athlete stated that she could still run even faster: “I can top that.” (MUL) Louis Nusbaumer aka ‘Ara’ His totem name is Ara. Why choose this for his scouting nickname? Louis Nusbaumer, a 21-year-old student of geography and environmental sciences, no longer remembers. He was seven when he became a Cub. Today, Ara is the chief of the Venture Scouts, a group of 15- to 17-year-olds from the St-Michel scouting group in Delémont, canton of Jura. Like thousands of other scouts, he was involved in the ‘mova’, the federal camp for the Swiss scout movement, which took place this summer in the Goms valley (VS). Ara arrived at the camp before it opened, along with other chiefs of the Venturers unit from the cantons of Jura and Berne. The group built a log tower in the camp. “The view was stunning. We connected four tarpaulins to make a roof for ourselves,” he tells us. Amongst other activities, the Venturers helped build a giant tree hut. They strolled around freely in this enormous camp of 30,000 scouts. There was only one rule: stay together and be contactable by phone. “We spent two weeks living together and that created some very strong bonds,” smiles Ara, for whom one of the key values in scouting is acceptance of oneself and of others. Why have a uniform? “Scouting comes from the army, so it’s from there,” comments the young man, considering this a reasonable question. In scouting language, the uniforms distinguish between different age groups: turquoise shirts for the Cubs, beige for the Scouts, red for the Venturers and green for those in charge. Within the St-Michel scouting group, the leaders have chosen to wear red, “to remain closer to the Venturers”. Will Ara be at the next ‘mova’, in 14 years’ time? “Why not? The movement always needs volunteers,” says Nusbaumer. STÉPHANE HERZOG Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 8 Top pick News

THEODORA PETER More than six months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the horror of war in the middle of Europe has not gone away. The initial hope of many Ukrainians that they would have to flee abroad for a short time only has been dashed. In Switzerland, the refugees are preparing themselves for a prolonged stay. The people who found shelter in the village of Mittelhäusern in Berne (see “Swiss Review” 3/2022) are also trying to reorganise their lives. In the meantime, some of them have been able to leave their host families and move into rented flats. By now, most refugees have settled well into everyday life in Switzerland, with their children attending school and communication becoming increasingly easy. However, language remains a major hurdle when it comes to finding work. Of the 60,000 Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland, around 33,000 are of working age, but only 10 per cent of them had found a job by the summer. This low percentage is also due to the fact that 80 per cent of the refugees eligible to work are women. Many of them have preschool-aged children who need to be looked after. In a survey conducted in July by the research institute Sotomo, more than half of the companies polled expressed a general interest in employing Ukrainians. However, the companies would like more state support for language courses to facilitate integration into the labour market. Potential employers also call for planning security with regard to obtaining residence and work permits for Ukrainian employees. Protection status S, which was initially introduced for one year, will expire in spring 2023. Heat less and save electricity The war in Ukraine is having an impact on energy supplies across Europe, as Russia is using its reserves as leverage and has sharply cut gas deliveries to the West. Many countries are expecting shortages during the coming winter – including Switzerland, where 20 per cent of households heat with gas. The fuel also plays an important role in electricity production and the operation of industrial plants. To make matters worse, Switzerland depends on electricity imports in winter, but energy is becoming scarce all over. The federal government and the energy industry are opting first to appeal to the general public to save energy, e.g. by taking a shower instead of a bath, turning down the heat, drying laundry outdoors, or switching off appliances completely instead of using standby mode. Voluntary measures could reduce energy consumption by 10 to 20 per cent. State-imposed regulations for lowering temperatures in public buildings and switching off street lights are also conceivable. If none of this helps, gas and electricity rationing for industry and households could even be imposed. In the event of a worst-case scenario, the Federal Council is planning reserve power plants that can also be operated with oil instead of gas if necessary. The long shadow of war Hope of a quick return to their war-ravaged homeland has faded for the over 60,000 Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland. The consequences of the war are also becoming more tangible to the Swiss population with the looming threat of energy shortages during the winter. The Ukraine flag is now a common sight in Switzerland – almost every Swiss school has welcomed Ukrainian children. Pictured: inside the Landhaus school in Herisau (AR). Photo: Keystone Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 Politics 9

Looking upon the work of Swiss artist Youri Messen-Jaschin gives a slight feeling of imbalance, like after a boat trip. It seems that an image with a strong visual contrast can impact the inner ear, an organ which helps maintain balance. An image sometimes generates effects on the cognitive system of the viewer, because the brain is comparing previously memorised visual elements with current images, which can trigger a certain dissonance. Optical art plays on these mechanisms. Such are the resonances between art and neurology in “l’Op art rencontre les neurosciences” (Op art meets neuroscience), artwork bearing the signature of painter Youri Messen-Jaschin and Bogdan Draganski, the director of the neuroimaging research laboratory in Lausanne. The two men have observed the brain activity of volunteers using magnetic resonance imaging, while images created especially for the study were projected in front of their eyes. “If Op art has such strong effects on the brain, it could perhaps contribute to relieving certain illnesses, or even curing them,” writes the photographer, painter and sculptor. The artworks combine pure art and explanations on the inner workings of the optical illusions. They can be viewed as an art book and an essay. Of German and Latvian origin, Youri Messen-Jaschin was born in 1941 in Arosa. In his long career he has worked in Paris, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Caracas and Berne. He currently lives in Lausanne. STEPHANE HERZOG Youri Messen-Jaschin, an artist who plays with your brain Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 10 Images “Apophenia”, oil on canvas, 2021. The image’s appearance changes completely when rotated 90 degrees. © Youri Messen-Jaschin

Youri Messen-Jaschin, Bogdan Draganski “L’Op art rencontre les neurosciences” Editions Favre , November 2021, 175 pages, CHF 34 Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 11 Youri Messen-Jaschin at his smallest: “Red Ball”, “Blue Red Black” and “Circle Red Blue” on Swiss Post stamps (2010). “Wormhole”, graphic print on paper, 2018. © Youri Messen-Jaschin

Tents dot the Ebersecken sports field in the heart of the Lucerne countryside (image on left). Rope pulling is finally back! Photos: Danielle Liniger Gritty determination, quirky hats – the men’s team competing at home in the 580-kg category (above). Sticky stuff – athletes rub their hands with resin in order to get a better grip on the rope (image on right). “Cool team sport” – young rope-pulling stars before and after a pull (images on left and right). 12 Report

SUSANNE WENGER On an early July Saturday in Ebersecken, the summer sun shines down on the gently rolling landscape of the Lucerne countryside. Cowbells tinkle, butterflies flutter by. On the sports field near the school, however, there is intense activity in the heat, and the competition sounds loud and fierce. More than 20 Swiss rope pulling teams have come to compete in a championship tournament this weekend in several weight and age categories. The Ebersecken rope pulling club, which organised the event and is fielding five teams, has seized the opportunity and turned the tournament into a three-day village festival. There’s finally a tug-of-war festival in Ebersecken again, after the two long pandemic years. “We’re so happy,” says Peter Joller, co-president of the club. The 32-year-old weaves his way around the field in a blue team uniform. Despite the difficult situation, the club members did not waste any time lazing around, he is quick to point out. Mixed teams are competing in the under-19 age group, while in the elite categories of 580 and 640 kilograms, the men are on their own this time. Anyone who has never been to a ropepulling tournament quickly realises that the seemingly archaic competitions are strictly regulated, with set techniques and sequences, weight controls and footwear inspections. Muscles and mental strength Pick up the rope! Take the strain! Ready! Pull! These are the commands the referee gives to start a pull. With their left feet rammed into the grass in sync and the 33-metre-long rope gripped tightly between tacky hands, the athletes assume the most horizontal position possible, and the battle for a place in the final begins with great vigour and shouting. The aim is always to pull the opposing team far enough onto your own side. Anyone who clamps the rope under their arm is warned, and locking or sitting down is also prohibited. “Hold, hold, hold, downwards, downwards, downwards!” The coaches stand right beside their teams and bark out instructions non-stop. Because of the intense physical exertion involved, mental fitness is also important, explains the club’s own field announcer Adrian Koller over the powerful loudspeaker system. One of the youth teams from Ebersecken immediately demonstrates the truth of that statement. Even after two warnings and with defeat looming, the local team doesn’t crack and is able to win the preliminary round draw after all. Cheers are heard on and off the field. The marquee fills up, food is served, and the drinks flow. A fun hobby turns serious Ebersecken is a rural village, with around 400 people still living here. Two years ago, the village was amalgamated with the larger neighbouring municipality of Altishofen, as Ebersecken was no longer able to operate as a commune on its own. In return, Altishofen won a world championship title for free, as they say in the village, only half-jokingly, when talking about The strong women and men of Ebersecken In a small Lucerne village, the fringe sport of tug of war is the biggest thing around. The Ebersecken rope pulling club has been the most successful Swiss tug of war association in the last ten years. We stopped by to witness this test of strength that requires team spirit and connects a farming village with the world. the victorious rope pullers. The residents of Ebersecken had to give up their old coat of arms featuring a boar, but the bristly animal continues to snort fiercely on the logo of the rope pulling club. And even now, as a district of Altishofen, Ebersecken remains a tug-of-war stronghold. The Ebersecken elite pullers have won at least one Swiss championship title every year since 2010, and their top national team members have brought home gold medals from three world championships. Their success stems from tremendous determination, intensive training and team spirit, all of which are very evident on the ground. Founded in 1980 Higher, farther, faster, more beautiful? In search of somewhat unconventional Swiss records. This edition: Visiting the powerhouse of the strongest rope pullers. Switzerland and its many clubs The Ebersecken rope pulling club is one of an estimated 100,000 associations in Switzerland, a country that certainly loves its clubs. According to the 2020 Volunteer Monitor, three quarters of the population aged 15 and over are members of at least one club or non-profit organisation, and over 60% are actively involved. The largest group is sports clubs, followed by leisure and culture. Associations have historically been very important in Switzerland, and despite increasing mobility and a trend toward individualisation, experts have not detected a decline in club memberships. The small scale and local flavour are attractive, especially in a globalised world. Associations that embrace innovation have the best prospects. This could involve making use of the internet, for example, or enabling project related involvement. (SWE) Carmen Rölli and Peter Joller are the volunteer presidents of the Ebersecken rope pulling club. Both also compete in teams. Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 13

on this Saturday in July. Amid deafening cheers, the youth team wins its final and claims the championship title once again. The older teams have been falling slightly short of the high expectations this season, but, “We’ll be back,” co-president Peter Joller states reassuringly. He appears relaxed and is beaming. A song by the dialect band Züri West is now playing in the marquee. “Someday happiness will find you,” goes the refrain. In Ebersecken, happiness has found the team hanging for dear life to the end of a rope. for amateur tournaments, the club began to set its sights higher and higher. A few members decided to focus on making a big name for the club in sporting circles, comments copresident Joller: “And that’s what we can build on today.” Training takes place at least twice a week during the off-season and almost every day during the regular season. The rope-pulling club has its own training facilities and a weight room. Social media presence What’s so appealing about rope pulling that carpenters, structural draughtswomen, civil engineers, and truck drivers are willing to invest a great deal of time and resources in it as a hobby? “Team spirit”, answers Carmen Rölli, “Achieving something together.” The 26-year-old is co-president of Ebersecken rope pulling club and a rope puller herself. “Good Peter Joller. The club’s catchment area extends into the surrounding municipalities, and he confirms there are currently more than enough interested youth. This is probably also thanks to the club’s up-to-date communication efforts. It has a social media presence as well as innovative analogue ideas. The calendar printed for its 35th anniversary, in which the men’s teams appeared bare-chested, sold out in no time. The club has 110 members, more than half of whom never touch a rope but instead are involved in volunteer work for the association. 2023 World Championships coming to Switzerland The rope-pulling club has created an identity for Ebersecken, otherwise just one more small village in the middle of Switzerland. It’s important for community life and something to rally around. “The club is making the name of Ebersecken known around the world,” confirms co-president Carmen Rölli. It has already competed in tournaments in South Africa, the USA, Sweden and Spain. And next summer, athletes from 30 nations will descend upon Ebersecken, which has been chosen by the Tug of War International Federation to host the 2023 World Championships. It will be the biggest event in the club’s history. The president of the organising committee is Lucerne Centre Party National Councillor Ida Glanzmann-Hunkeler. She grew up in Ebersecken and comments, “It’s an honour for me.” Rope pulling has “always been one of our regional sports”, says the politician, and the community is proud of the club’s achievements. Due to space constraints, the actual World Championships venue will be Campus Sursee in the nearby small town of Sursee. According to Glanzmann-Hunkeler, one goal is to increase awareness of the sport of rope pulling in Switzerland. While “Schwingen”, or Swiss wrestling, has become popular and hip in urban circles as well, rope pulling has a low profile. In Ebersecken, however, the sports field erupts in pandemonium Ready for victory – the Ebersecken youth team psyches itself up for the pull. Photos: Danielle Liniger The shoes are custom made, with a metal plate permitted on the heel. The overall team weight must be correct, with everyone weighing in before the competition. Zofingen Olten Langenthal Roggwil Willisau Sursee Schöftland Ebersecken Dagmersellen Altishofen Ebersecken lies between the towns of Langenthal (BE), Sursee (LU) and Zofingen (AG). friends you can rely on,” says Erich Joller, the 34-year-old who coaches the elite teams. “The fact that everyone looks out for everyone else, from the strongest to the weakest,” adds Sarah Lüönd, a volunteer and spectator at the tournament. Svenja Krauer and Julia Marti, two 13-year-old junior rope pullers, also think it’s a “cool team sport”, but that it needs more women. “Write that down,” they exclaim breathlessly between two pulls. The Ebersecken rope pulling club intentionally invests in youth development. “We offer young people something positive,” declares co-president Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 14 Report

15 SUSANNE WENGER No nationwide Covid-19 protective measures have been in place in Switzerland since the end of March. The only reaction by authorities to the unexpected Omicron wave this summer was to recommend that people over 80 reinforce their vaccination protection against severe infections with a second booster, which was proof that Switzerland is keeping to its comparatively restrained course of action. Back in the spring, Health Minister and Social Democratic Federal Councillor Alain Berset had already been quick to pat himself on the back as he answered a journalist’s question about Switzerland’s Covid-19 track record with “Where other than Switzerland would you have wanted to live during the pandemic?” Nevertheless, Berset promised that the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis would be “unsparingly” investigated. Good marks, critical remarks Since then, various reports have been published by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the Federal Chancellery, parliamentary commissions, and the Conference of Cantonal Governments. Overall, the government’s pandemic management receives good marks in these publications. The experts commissioned by the FOPH state in their evaluation that “the federal government and the cantons reacted appropriately on the whole, and, with a few exceptions, in a timely manner to the threat posed by Covid-19”. However, there are also critical remarks in the analyses. The Swiss crisis organisation in particular was considered to be inadequate. The authorities were also viewed as being insufficiently prepared, e.g. in stocking up on protective masks. Further findings include the need for the federal government and the cantons to cooperate better in a pandemic situation, and for clarification regarding the involvement of the scientific community. Questions are also raised concerning individual measures implemented to combat the spread of the virus, namely the school closures in spring 2020 and the isolation of elderly people in care facilities. Conspicuous by its absence is any commentary on the low point of the Swiss approach in autumn/winter 2020. Disagreement between the various levels of government led to the authorities initiating measures relatively late, and with no vaccines available yet at that time, there was a temporary marked rise in excess deaths. A large percentage of the more than 13,000 confirmed Covid deaths Pandemic lessons: what has Switzerland learnt? The Confederation and cantons are writing up Switzerland’s handling of the pandemic in various reports. There is a lot of self-congratulatory language, some critical remarks, and one glaring blind spot. Federal Councillor Alain Berset, pictured here at a meeting with hospital staff in Neuchâtel in 2020, promised an “unsparing” review of Switzerland’s Covid-19 policy. Photo: Keystone in Switzerland to date took place during this phase of the second wave. This fatal hesitation is only mentioned in passing in the FOPH report. So far, no one other than the president of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors, Basel politician for the Centre party Lukas Engelberger, has expressed any regret with regard to the review. The lower vaccination rates in Switzerland compared to other Western European countries have not been addressed yet either. The reports list recommendations, most of which are aimed at improving crisis management structures. It remains to be seen which changes will actually be incorporated into the Epidemics Act and the national pandemic plan. Voices in parliament and the media have already warned that practical lessons truly must be learned from this review – or it will be an exercise in futility. Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 Covid-19

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Bambi – caught between life and death 3,000 Fawns sheltering in long grass do not run off when a farmer approaches with a mowing machine, meaning they are often killed – literally cut to pieces by the machine. Happily, help is now at hand from the air. The Rehkitzrettung fawn rescue organisation scours tens of thousands of hectares of meadowland with drones before mowing begins. This enabled 3,000 fawns to be located and saved this year alone. Perhaps this will change our view of drones? 3 While the country is talking about reducing water and energy usage, the young people at the federal scout camp actually put it into practice. The sweaty scouts were able to shower for a maximum of three minutes per week. The strict showering schedule involved one minute of water to wet yourself, two minutes without water to soap up, then two minutes of water to rinse off. And cold water only, of course. 470 At around the same time there was an explosion – not at the federal camp but in sales of small electric heaters in Switzerland. Galaxus, the largest Swiss online shop, sold 470 per cent more space heaters in July than in the same month last year. Buyers are responding to the fear that this coming winter may see a shortage of gas for heating. 27 All of the figures quoted here are verified and correct. It’s important to note this, because there are also many in Switzerland who would agree with the statement: “The media lie and politicians manipulate us”. According to a new survey, 27 out of 100 Swiss share this view and are considered conspiracy theorists. What is most astonishing, however, is that this number actually decreased at least 25% during the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers explain this may be due to the vehemence of some critical commentators, which alienated many who are naturally inclined to accept conspiracy theories. FIGURES COMPILED BY MARC LETTAU “Swiss Review”, the magazine for the Swiss Abroad, is in its 48th year of publication and is published six times a year in German, French, English and Spanish in 13 regional editions. It has a total circulation of 431,000, including 253,000 electronic copies. “Swiss Review”’s regional news appears four times a year. The ordering parties are fully responsible for the content of advertisements and promotional inserts. This content does not necessarily represent the opinion of either the editorial office or the publisher. All Swiss Abroad who are registered with a Swiss representation receive the magazine free of charge. Anyone else can subscribe for an annual fee (Switzerland: CHF 30 / abroad: CHF 50). ONLINE EDITION EDITORS Marc Lettau, Editor-in-Chief (MUL) Stéphane Herzog (SH) Theodora Peter (TP) Susanne Wenger (SWE) Paolo Bezzola (PB, FDFA representative) FDFA OFFICIAL COMMUNICATIONS The editorial responsibility for the “Notes from the Federal Palace” section is assumed by the Consular Directorate, Innovation and Partnerships, Effinger- strasse 27, 3003 Berne, Switzerland. | EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Sandra Krebs (KS) TRANSLATION SwissGlobal Language Services AG, Baden LAYOUT Joseph Haas, Zürich PRINT Vogt-Schild Druck AG, Derendingen PUBLISHER The “Swiss Review” is published by the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA). The postal address of the publisher, the editorial office and advertising department is: Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, Alpenstrasse 26, 3006 Berne. Phone: +41 31 356 61 10 Bank details: CH97 0079 0016 1294 4609 8 / KBBECH22 COPY DEADLINE FOR THIS EDITION 17 August 2022 CHANGES TO DELIVERY Please advise your local embassy or consulate. The editorial team cannot access your address and administrative data. Thank you. 30, 000 Speaking of drones, they were the only means able to capture the unbelievable scale of the BuLa 2022 federal camp, the largest Swiss Scout camp of all time. The tent city, where 30,000 scouts enjoyed hot summer days, stretched almost four kilometres across the valley floor in Goms (VS). – Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 17 Switzerland in figures Imprint

STÉPHANE HERZOG The one million oil and gas boilers which heat Swiss homes will have to be replaced by heat pumps, geothermal energy, or, outside the towns, by wood heating. These solutions will enable a reduction in CO2 emissions of approximately 30 percent. “It’s not a hard choice, because replacing an oil boiler by a heat pump is simple. There is also a political angle behind energy renovations: we see we can no longer rely on fossil fuel energy produced abroad,” says Stéphane Genoud, professor in energy management at the HES-SO Valais-Wallis. Cantonal laws are gradually imposing the replacement of oil and gas boilers by sustainable systems. But a proportion of the population still considers cost a priority. In 2021, there were still more than 17,000 fossil fuel boilers installed, compared to 33,000 heat pumps. Heating companies did not hesitate to offer cut prices for replacement oil boilers, in anticipation of the entry into force of these new laws. This was particularly evident in Glarus, St Gallen and Zurich. “This pro-oil trend will impact future generations, because these boilers will still be burning oil for a quarter of a century to come,” says Stéphane Genoud. The former electrician estimates that the curve in CO2 production in Switzerland and throughout the world will lead to an increase in global warming of 3-4 degrees between now and 2050, with immeasurable consequences for the country. The heat pump at the centre of the energy transition The flagship tool of the transition is the heat pump. This apparatus, which extracts heat from a liquid source or from the air, is today fitted in approximately one in five buildings in Switzerland. Its installation is supported by the Confederation, the cantons and certain communes. Switzerland will have to disconnect one million fossil fuel boilers The climate emergency calls for the abandonment of oil and gas boilers. Technical solutions exist, but the manpower and materials are lacking. Thousands of new fossil fuel boilers are still being installed. A typical sight in Switzerland. Deep holes are drilled using a mobile drilling rig for a geothermal probe. The aim is to heat homes with thermal energy from the ground. Photo: Keystone Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 18 Nature and the environment

“With an electrical source of one kilowatt hour, a heat pump using water can produce up to 4.5 kilowatt hours of heat. This remains a valid solution, even in the event of electricity price rises,” explains François Guisan, who manages a sustainable development advice bureau in Geneva. Ideally, this system is powered by solar panels. In Geneva, there is a building made up of 260 rental apartments which uses this type of heating solution, for example. “If the boiler renovation goal is set at 25 years, the renovation rate should be 4 percent, but it is currently closer to 2.3 percent,” calculates Fabrice Rognon, a member of the committee of the Groupement professionnel suisse pour les PAC (Swiss professional association for heat pumps). The engineer also draws attention to the installation of oil boilers in new builds. “To reach zero carbon emissions, we need to stop installing fossil fuel boilers altogether!” Households hostage to fossil fuel energies Concern over the costs of non-fossil-fuel heating plays a crucial role in this phenomenon. “A gas or oil boiler costs less, but over time, a heating system using a heat pump will be more economical, not forgetting that households’ exposure to the costs of fossil fuel energies is high, with rising prices,” points out Guisan. This specialist recently led the energy renovation of a luxurious home in the Geneva countryside. The boiler consumed 9,000 litres of oil per year. The installation of pellet-fueled heating cost 80,000 Swiss francs. The advantages? Produced in Switzerland, wood is less expensive than oil, and its greenhouse gas emissions are up to ten times lower than fossil fuels. In this canton, the installation of oil boilers is prohibited as of 2022. The question of the costs of energy renovations obviously concerns those renting properties. “In order to carry out renovations, it will be necessary to increase the rent, which tenants will reject. Landlords will first have to accept that in ten years, the results of mortgage rate drops have not been translated into their rent prices. Pro-tenant lobbyists will also have to step up and do something about this, because in the end, the renovation will be more economical than the status quo,” reasons Stéphane Genoud. Promoting energy renovation professions Switzerland does not have enough trained individuals to carry out this work. “We are missing 300,000 installers,” estimates the professor from the canton of Valais, who mentions having developed a work and training programme aimed at young, unemployed graduates in the Maghreb region. “They would return to their country after a few years spent working in Switzerland with skills and capital.” Genoud highlights the fact that a number of professions are set to gradually disappear. “With electric cars, mechanics will no longer be as useful. They could install solar panels instead,” he argues. Marc Muller, manager of a company specialising in energy renovation in Yverdon, envisages a sort of movement. “A student who has finished their studies in sociology and who is planning to leave to complete a world tour on their bike could be advised to become a carpenter,” he suggests. He emphasises that there is already a five-to-eight-year waiting list for the energy renovations for large buildings. For Genoud, the training system in Switzerland should encourage professions related to renovations. “Installing heat pumps is an attractive profession which pays well,” he confirms. Rejected at a referendum in 2021, the law on CO2 provided for support mechanisms for renovation works. “The Confederation should buy heat pumps by lots of 10,000, like it did for masks during Covid-19,” suggests the Valais professor. Because another shortage is looming, which also concerns solar panels and insulation materials. In April, the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy Committee of the National Council declared itself in favour of an indirect counter-project to the glaciers initiative, a text which advocated a linear reduction of greenhouse gases to achieve zero carbon in 2050. The counter-project in question suggested the implementation by the Confederation of an extraordinary programme worth 2 billion francs over ten years to replace the installation of fossil fuel boilers and to facilitate the energy-efficient renovation of buildings. A chimney sweep cleans an oil furnace and has many more to do. Although they are growing obsolete, a surprising number of new oil heating systems are being installed. Photo: Keystone Swiss Review / October 2022 / No.5 19