The only red flag

which we would like to encounter
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Switzerland is one of our favorite investment countries.

Switzerland is one of our favorite investment countries. Switzerland is almost entirely surrounded by European member states, but is not part of the EU itself and still has its own currency, the Swiss franc. Furthermore, it is not a member of NATO and did not join the United Nations until 2002. Switzerland is, however, part of the European Free Trade Association. The EFTA is a trade bloc in which there is much less cooperation than in the EU. For example, there is no political cooperation between the Member States and the participating countries do not form a customs union either.
The Swiss regularly wonder about the usefulness of EU membership. In other words: why would you subject to mandatory European regulations, in exchange for minimal democratic influence on the development of those regulations. You could even defend the proposition, as suggested years ago in a Dutch newspaper, that “Switzerland manages to exert more influence than the Netherlands on the European regulatory process. Precisely because the EU has no control over non-member Switzerland and therefore cannot force the Swiss to do anything."

“Switzerland manages to exert more influence than the Netherlands on the European regulatory process.”

In this context, Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, has mentioned Switzerland as a potential threat to the EU. The fact that Switzerland is not a member of the EU suggests, if we follow the usual reasoning of anti-Brexit politicians, that the Swiss economy is not doing well. But the opposite is true. Switzerland has by far the strongest economy in Europe! Here are a few indicators: unemployment is 4%, interest rate is negative, there is no budget deficit, national debt is at 34%, there are also high pension reserves, a high trade balance and current accounts are in surplus, etc.

When we visit our Swiss companies (Lindt, Nestlé, Schindler etc.) we always hear that being a non-member of the EU means no or almost no obstacle to mass exporting to EU countries.

The speed with which, for example, Nespresso, Nestlé coffee which is at least € 70 per kilo, has infiltrated the European coffee market is a textbook example. A more recent example is Stadler. Do you know the outcome of purchasing the Fyra trains from EU member Italy? The parliamentary committee of inquiry has calculated that the Fyra debacle cost 11 billion euros. And what did the Dutch Railways do next? They have urgently ordered 58 sprinters from the Swiss Stadler. No builder in the world could produce the desired number within two years. 131 Stadler trains are already running in the Netherlands and around 4,000 across Europe. Stadler was founded in 1942 and had a turnover of several million francs in 1995. Now that is more than Zwf 2 billion per year and the company supplies trains all over the world. According to the Financieele Dagblad (Dutch financial newspaper), Stadler is now also looking at the US and Australia and they are now supplying new double-decker trains that can reach a speed of 160 kilometers per hour. The fact that the average working week in Switzerland is 42 hours, that there are no strikes and that the level of education is high, all contributes to the competitive strength of the Swiss Stadler. In that regard, we see Stadler as a metaphor for the power of Switzerland. And how about doing business with the EU? This also means for Stadler, just like for Nespresso, no obstacle to successfully infiltrating Europe.

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