Switzerland: referendum against Frontex

As a member of the Schengen Area, Switzerland is obliged to contribute to securing the EU's external borders. In September its parliament approved annual payments of 61 million Swiss francs to Frontex. However activists are opposing the funding for the border protection agency, which has been accused of illegal pushbacks, and now hope to overturn the decision by referendum. What can this achieve?

Open/close all quotes
St. Galler Tagblatt (CH) /

A signal against the EU's double standards

The EU's lofty values are being trampled underfoot at its external borders, the St. Galler Tagblatt writes in dismay:

“In actual fact the EU has two sets of values: those for its own citizens, and those for migrants standing at the EU's external border. This is the responsibility of the border protection agency Frontex. In recent years, it has made headlines with human rights violations (or tolerance of them) and illegal pushbacks. ... We must hope that the referendum against Switzerland's participation in Frontex will be held. With a critical debate and a vote on Frontex, Switzerland could send a signal against the double standards of the EU.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Don't leave the borders to brutal bouncers

Switzerland cannot simply shirk its responsibility, warns the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“It is Switzerland's duty to cooperate even in unpleasant tasks - and to stand up for consistent respect for human dignity in the process. Any country that wants to stand on the sidelines over Frontex is leaving the external borders in the hands of the brutal bouncers. It is naïve to believe that a Swiss referendum will increase the pressure on the EU to reform Schengen and Frontex. ... Switzerland should also provide border guards to ensure that illegal migration is combated on the basis of the rule of law. It is simply a lack of solidarity to leave the Italian coast guard to deal with the daily plight of refugees in the Mediterranean on its own.”