Switzerland. According to Countryaah.com, Switzerland population in 2020 is estimated at 8,654,633. Two referendums on immigration were held during the year with conflicting results. In February, the issue concerned the reintroduction of quotas to prevent “mass immigration” from EU countries, following an initiative of the Conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP). The proposal was supported by a narrow margin: 50.3%. That put the government in a difficult situation because Switzerland has concluded an agreement with the EU on free movement. Behind the second referendum in November was the environmental organization Ecopop, which said it wanted to protect the environment with a proposal to limit net immigration to one fifth. Opponents accused Ecopop of xenophobia and jeopardizing the economy, and 74% voted against the proposal.
The voters had to decide on several issues: in May they voted against introducing a statutory minimum wage, which would have become the highest in the world, and for the purchase of Swedish fighter jets of the type JAS 39 Gripen. However, they supported a proposal for a life-long ban on convicted pedophiles for working with children.
Crédit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, agreed to pay $ 2.6 billion in fines to the United States after pleading guilty to helping thousands of Americans hide assets and avoid paying taxes in their home country for decades. The decision led to Crédit Suisse losing in the second quarter of the year. The bank UBS made a similar settlement with the US in 2009, and investigations were ongoing against a dozen other Swiss banks. Prosecution also awaited a number of bank employees.
A free trade agreement with China came into force at the end of the first half of the year. Switzerland became the second country in Europe to conclude such an agreement with China, after Iceland. In November, the Bern Art Museum agreed to receive an invaluable art treasure with over 1,000 works stolen by the Nazis and found by a German man whose father was an art dealer during the Second World War. The man had bequeathed the art treasure to the Bern Museum. According to a settlement with Germany, works should be able to be handed over to legitimate owners if they can be identified.
In May 2016, after 17 years of work, the world’s longest mountain tunnel, the 57.1km long tunnel through St. Gotthard massif. In December it was also opened for passenger transport.
Also in May, the Ministry of Immigration brought a case against a 19-year-old Swiss dual citizenship with a view to depriving him of Swiss citizenship. The reason was that he allegedly joined the IS, but otherwise did not face any criminal charges.
In the second half of 2016, NGOs were able to report that Switzerland had sent thousands of refugees back to Italy, including hundreds of unaccompanied refugee children.
In November, a proposal by the Greens on accelerated phasing out of nuclear power in Switzerland fell by 54.2%.
In December, the EU and Switzerland signed an agreement to reduce tension between the two parties in the wake of the 2014 referendum. At the same time, the EU suspended the exclusion of Switzerland from the Erasmus and Horizon 2020 programs.