The spring meeting of the Council of the Swiss Abroad was held online, and divided into two sessions. The first one was held on 6 February, the second on 20 March.
Session 6 February
96 delegates participated in the first instalment of the spring session. During the meeting there were problems with the ‘Demio’ voting portal. It was then decided to conclude the voting for each agenda item after the meeting separately via ‘SurveyMonkey’.
1. New OSA Board member
Mrs Monika Rüegger was proposed and confirmed as the successor to Mr Claudio Zanetti for the seat of the SVP (Swiss People’s Party) on the board of the OSA. Mrs Rüegger introduced herself briefly. She expressed her pleasure for having been nominated to join the OSA as she has personal links to the Swiss Abroad. Her brother has lived in New Zealand for 20 years and one of her sons lives in Los Angeles.
The financial reports and the budget for 2021 were overwhelmingly accepted, as were the new regulation for the compensation of expenses and a new risk matrix for members of the OSA board.
3. Goals for 2021-2025
The delegates approved the main goals for the term 2021-2025 which have been defined as follows:
- Banking problem: The search for a solution is challenging and ongoing. It is endeavoured to conclude a similar agreement as exist with BCGE with one or two more banks.
- Retirement and Social Security (AHV/IV/EO): Improvements in this area are long-term goals.
- Political rights of the Swiss Abroad: A new e-voting system is to be introduced. The Federal Chancellery will be in charge. The project will keep us busy for the entire legislative period.
- Realisation of a memorial for Swiss victims of the Nazi regime.
- Service contract with the FDFA: The existing agreement between the OSA and the FDFA is expiring and must be renewed this year.
- CSA Elections for term 2025-2028: The funding for holding the elections must be secured. Constituencies are to be defined and countries that are interested in online voting are to be identified.
- Development of a new guiding principle and vision for the future of the OSA.
- Introduction and implementation this year of a code of conduct for the secretariat, board and CSA.
- Repositioning of Swiss Review: An analysis for the new layout will be carried out in 2021. Implementation is planned for 2022.
- Development of online offers for the youth service: new offers are being examined for the youth service. Various activities had to be postponed due to COVID-19.
- Fiscal policy: The reserve policy is discussed with the FDFA. The OSA has reserves.
- International mobility.
4. Vaccination in Switzerland
It has been confirmed that Swiss Abroad can get the COVID-19 vaccination free of charge in Switzerland, provided they have obligatory Swiss healthy insurance.
5. New OSA website
Delegates received an introduction to the new OSA online presence. It was a large project that commenced in 2019 and resulted in the merging of the OSA website, the Swiss Review website and the old SwissCommunity platform. While the name ‘Organisation of the Swiss Abroad’ remains officially, the online presence is now known a ‘SwissCommunity’. A fresh, contemporary branding was developed to reflect the change.
A rather aggressive opposition was raised by the leadership of the German Umbrella Organisation, rejecting what they called the ‘renaming’ of the OSA and the alleged lack of consultation in the development of the new website. A vigorous discussion ensued. The critic was largely dismissed while at the same time some improvement suggestions from delegates were acknowledged to have merit. The new online presence www.swisscommunity.org/en was overwhelmingly welcomed.
Session 20 March
Report to follow.
CSA Delegate, Melbourne