GENEVA – May is the month of Europe, celebrating the anniversary of the creation of the Council of Europe on May 5, and of the European Union on May 9.
It is the opportunity to commemorate a man who played a determining role in Switzerland’s prosperity. This man was Robert Schumann, the French foreign minister who, on May 9, 1950 – with the declaration bearing his name – laid the foundations of peace and prosperity in Europe by putting an end to the conflicts that were tearing apart the continent.
By inviting former enemies France and Germany to manage their steel and coal industries jointly, Schumann hoped to achieve a gradual political integration of European countries by creating common interests.
Ironically, this "small steps" policy is the model adopted by Switzerland to "elude" European membership. The New Swiss European Movement (NOMES) believes that our country was right to develop a special relationship with Europe, but that it should fully embrace the objective of membership so as to achieve a harmonious integration into the EU. We believe that Switzerland should join the EU standing on its feet, rather than on its knees – as some European countries were forced to do after grave economic crises. Our history proves that the EU serves our national interest.
The EU has been very beneficial to our country. The 60 years of peace it has given the continent has guaranteed a stability that allowed our economic actors to thrive. It has also made it possible for us to allocate fewer resources to arming ourselves and more resources to social progress. Let's not forget that before 1950, our country was at risk of complete destruction, at the whim of nationalistic and imperial powers.
Europe’s integration of countries from the Eastern bloc after the collapse of the Soviet Union was inherent to this process, allowing the end of the Cold War and to the East-West rift, which were great factors of instability on the continent.
Now that banking secrecy is over...
The huge European market, dominated by the principles of free trade, allows our companies to export in colossal numbers. Even the euro – so reviled today – benefits our country, which does not have to struggle any more against the devaluations of 17 European currencies to maintain its exports.
It is important to point out that the current debt issues that plague EU member-states are the result of the failings of national sovereignty, which encouraged local demagogue politicians to ignore the deficit and debt break criteria defined by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 – before the Swiss debt break was implemented.
The end of Switzerland’s banking secrecy and preferential corporate tax regime for foreign multinationals – which were for a long time the country’s major assets – should encourage us to rethink the nature of our relationship with the EU.
By joining the European Union, Switzerland would not have to worry about blockades and other forms of blackmail – as was often the case during bilateral negotiations. It could focus all its energy on creating favorable and durable framework conditions for its economy. And as a member of the EU, Switzerland would at last have the possibility to influence decisions in its favor, as the other small countries within the EU have been able to.
Faced with the rise of great powers, Switzerland cannot afford to go it alone any more. "Nothing lasting is created when things are too easy," warned Robert Schuman when he described his vision of a united Europe. This has never been truer.
* The authors are members of the New Swiss European Movement (NOMES)
A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.
A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."
The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.
Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."
Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021
Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021
Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?
The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.
The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.
The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."
The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."
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