Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA)
99TH CONGRESS OF THE SWISS ABROAD 2023 IN ST. GALLEN
The members of the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) met on Friday, 18 August 2023, in St. Gallen.
The recent Swiss Abroad Congress in St. Gallen united voices for change. Alongside UK colleagues Michelle, Loredana, Franz, and Andreas, OSA representatives from worldwide locations gathered.
Central discussions revolved around the upcoming 2023 Federal Elections, providing opportunities to engage with major political parties. The OSA spent a year crafting a manifesto outlining core demands, utilised by delegates in government advocacy. The manifesto is available on SwissCommunity’s website. Notably, UK members Franz Muheim and Loredana Guegt-Wyatt stand as candidates in the upcoming elections, aiming to draw Swiss authorities’ attention to expatriate needs.
E-voting remained a focal point, with Basel-Stadt, St. Gallen, and Thurgau successfully testing and implementing the system for the October elections, setting a promising precedent.
A significant revelation emerged: the Swiss diaspora now surpasses 800,000, a 34% surge since 2002. While only 227,000 are officially registered in their cantons, our collective influence matches the voting populations of Tessin and Valais. Strengthening our presence on electoral rolls is crucial for enhanced representation. The congress established two new Committees: one focused on lobbying and communications, the other championed by Andreas Feller, advocating for the direct election of OSA representatives.
In 2024, the 100th OSA congress will convene in Lucerne. Leveraging a century of experience, OSA aims to enhance support for Swiss expatriates worldwide, fostering community engagement and empowerment.
The next CSA meetings will take place on:
Saturday, 2 December 2023 (online)
Friday, 15 March 2024 (Kursaal Berne)
Thursday, 11 July 2024 (Lucerne)
The Council of the Swiss Abroad meets twice per year. At their meetings, the delegates discuss Swiss Abroad policy questions as well as current political topics concerning the Swiss Abroad. They make decisions and determine opinions and resolutions which are then submitted to the competent authorities.
The Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) represents the interests of Swiss citizens abroad vis-à-vis the authorities and the public in Switzerland.
UK CSA delegates present at the 2023 Spring Meeting & Congress:
98th Congress of the Swiss Abroad 2022 in Lugano
What are the challenges for our democracy?
Globalisation, migration, data protection, increasing digitalisation, exercising political rights, ensuring the rule of law, the Covid-19 pandemic and possible future pandemics: how is the democratic system of Switzerland reacting to the current challenges? Where does it need to reform?
How can we ensure Switzerland's unique democratic basis is preserved as we are exposed to increasingly supranational political, economic and financial forces?
Personalities from the fields of politics, economics and science discussed and reflected on these and many other questions.
The recordings of the meetings can be viewed on the SwissCommunity.org website here:
Winter 2021 meeting of the Council of the Swiss Abroad
The Council of the Swiss Abroad met twice in August 2021 virtually, replacing the planned conference in Lugano due to the pandemic. It was the first meeting of the 2021-2025 legislature and the Council members had to be ratified.
The following core topics were addressed during the conference:
All Swiss abroad now have the option to receive the vaccine in Switzerland. Regarding the vaccine certificate, Laurent Wehrli (FDP/PLR) announced that it should now be relatively easy to obtain a Covid certificate if vaccinated with a vaccine approved by Swiss authorities (Moderna, Pfizer). Parliament is currently working on the acceptance of other vaccines (AstraZeneca and others) together with Swissmedic and the Federal Office for Public Health to allow a facilitated access to a Covid certificate. More information will follow in due course.
Andreas Feller-Ryf underlined the flaws in the current voting process with voting material being delivered too late. The OSA published an official statement in 2019 asking the confederation to introduce an e-voting system for the federal elections in 2023, and urged all cantons to adopt appropriate legislation to ensure the introduction of an e-voting system by 2023.
Andreas Feller-Ryf inquired about the progress for the option to make voluntary OASI/AHV/AVS payments for all Swiss citizens post-Brexit. Currently only Swiss citizens who moved to the UK after 1 January 2021 have this option. It was understood that the problem is on the task list of the embassy.
New community platform swisscommunity.org
By launching the new community platform for the Swiss abroad, swisscommunity.org, the OSA hopes to better connect its community abroad with a modern, digital offering.
New initiatives from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)
A new digital application for the Swiss abroad is currently being tested with different representations around the world to improve information flow and service. The FDFA is also working on a new concept together with the ASO to better support expatriates leaving and returning to Switzerland.
Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) Spring 2021 Meeting
The Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) met today, 20 March 2021.
Normally we meet in the Rathaus in Bern for our spring meeting. One year ago the March 2020 CSA meeting was one of the first cancellations due to the pandemic (Covid it is now lasting over a year). The meeting was well organised - so just another zoom meeting on a Saturday.
From a UK point of view: UK delegate
delivered the final report of the task force on representativity of the organisation of the Swiss Abroad which now has procedures how to elect its delegates from all Swiss Abroad in their respective countries.
was leading a task force on representation of the Swiss Abroad in national parliament and their report was presented by one of his colleagues.
UK Delegates in action - voting at an OSA Congress.
Holocaust memorial in Switzerland
The ASO started the initiative to build a holocaust memorial in Switzerland. The steering committee includes the Jewish community and various historians. The project has grown in size and will not only include a memorial, but will be a place of education, information and in a broader context address themes such as democracy, human rights, freedom of the media, and treatment of minorities.
Representation of the Swiss abroad in parliament
Constantin Kokkinos (delegate, Greece) presented the progress of the work group ‘representation of the Swiss Abroad in parliament’. Although more than 10% of Swiss citizens reside abroad, there is currently no Swiss abroad candidate directly represented in parliament. In a survey conducted by the work group amongst 246 Swiss politicians, only 35% were favourable towards the representation of Swiss abroad in parliament. The result shows that the political climate is not yet ready for such a significant change.
Following the decision of the Federal Council not to pursue negotiations to form a bilateral framework agreement with the EU, first consequences have already emerged such as the Erasmus student exchange programme and substantial funding of research by the Horizon 2020 programme being suspended. Franz Muheim underlines that by hampering access to education and movement of Erasmus students, we risk lowering the high quality of education that Switzerland currently offers. The ASO has passed a resolution expressing its deep concern about the failed negotiations and asking the confederation to work on a clear and transparent strategy to secure the rights of the Swiss living in the EU or planning to in the future.
UK CSA delegates present at the Spring 2021 CSA Meetings:
Have your say
Discuss issues to raise and representation with one of our UK Delegates to the Council of the Swiss Abroad.
What is OSA?
The Organisation for the Swiss Abroad (OSA), is an independent organisation which is recognised as the advocate of the interests of the Fifth Switzerland.
Organised by the OSA, the Congress of the Swiss Abroad is the annual meeting of the Swiss citizen living all around the world. During this meeting, they have the opportunity to renew with the Swiss current information, to discuss on special themes and to exchange in a friendly atmosphere their own experiences. The Congress is held in German and French.
This Congress takes place each year in August, in a different area of Switzerland, and some 500 compatriots from the whole world come each year to this event. Visits, entertainment and meeting with the authorities and local population are also part of the programme.
Editorial Office "Swiss Review"
Association for the Promotion of Education for Young Swiss Abroad (AJAS)
educationsuisse (formerly: Committee for Swiss Schools Abroad)
Foundation for Young Swiss Abroad (FYSA)
More information is available on the OSA website: www.aso.ch
The OSA Management Team
OSA is organised and run by a highly motivated and skilled team permanent administrative team, the Secretariat for the Swiss Abroad (SSA). Below are the individuals we have previously had the pleasure to meet at our FOSSUK AGMs. You can see a full list of the team on the official Swiss Community website >