07/16/2013

The power of the aviation lobby?

The Federal Council seems to find the taxes in Basel airport more important than the rights of Swiss people living in France.


On behalf of the Swiss Federal Council, and the Swiss Government (who have yet to ratify it!) Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has just signed a new convention between Switzerland and France governing rights and taxation of successions involving Swiss nationals living in France. This is particularly relevant to the very many Swiss in Geneva and Vaud cantons, for reasons not unrelated to the lack of sufficient housing in Geneva.

According to an article in Le Matin Dimanche of 14 July, the Swiss Federal Council has given as one of the arguments for signing this convention, which many feel is unfavourable to Switzerland, the fact that the French Government has renounced taxing airlines using Basel airport (sited in France) according to the standard airport taxes in France. The estimate for the extra taxes that the airlines, in particular easyJet whch, as in Geneva, dominates the flights there, would have been about 14 million Swiss Francs per year.

Where the article is very critical is that this renouncment is officially stated as being a concession from France in return for the Swiss signature. The suggestion is that any other country might equally cause Switzerland to change its laws if they threaten higher taxes on Swiss interests.

What I find disturbing, above and beyond the fact that airlines are already pampered enough (no tax on their fuel and no VAT) is that the 14 million Swiss Francs gain for airlines has to be compared with the 180,000 Swiss who reside in France. Unfurtunately for them, the airline industry lobby is well organised and powerful, whereas these 180,000 Swiss probably have no organised body to go and help them have some influence in Berne!

Maybe the Swiss parliament will be alert to the plight of these Swiss living abroad (they do have the vote!). Alternatively, maybe these foreign-domiciled Swiss will make a big effort to return to Switzerland - if they can afford to find somewhere to live, quite possibly far from the work place! Another article in the same Le Matin Dimanche newspaper informed us that house prices are going up rapidly (possibly like a bubble?) in other Swiss towns (such as Chaux-de-Fonds)!

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