Switzerland cooperates with the European Border and Coast Guard Frontex, a private company in fact. The EU is upgrading Frontex. Switzerland must participate in this expansion because Switzerland is a Schengen member. Should Switzerland contribute more to Frontex in the future?

Switzerland is a member of the Schengen area. In it, people have the right to move freely. The voting population adopted the Schengen agreement in 2005. Switzerland has thus committed itself to implementing all changes to Schengen law. This also applies to the Frontex Regulation. Because the EU is providing Frontex with more personnel and technical equipment, Switzerland must also participate in this expansion.

Parliament has approved the increase in the Frontex contribution. Even if only barely. Switzerland’s contribution is to increase from CHF 24 million per year to CHF 61 million. This increase is controversial and will be fought by referendum. Therefore, Swiss voters will vote on the increase of the amount on May 15, 2022.

On average, federal employees spend around 1,400 days working for Frontex every year. Today, Swiss experts mainly work as interrogators, document specialists, dog handlers or observers. According to the Federal Government, they are not used on coast guard ships.

The Federal Council warns against underestimating the proposal. “It is imperative to adopt the other Schengen rules, otherwise we risk exclusion,” says Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter. Switzerland would then be pretty much alone and would have to find a solution. The tense relations with the EU could deteriorate further, the supporters fear. Frontex is also important for security. The Schengen Agreement gives Switzerland access to European search databases.

An alliance consisting of the left-wing activist network Migrant Solidarity Network, left-wing organisations, SP, Greens, trade union Confederation, Caritas and churches is fighting back against the expansion of Frontex with Swiss money and personnel. Frontex plays a central role in the “degradation of refugees through deportations,” the opponents say. The No Committee criticizes the illegal pushing back of refugees – the so-called push-backs. The opponents fear that with the additional money at Frontex, the European external borders will be sealed off even more. A no vote would increase the pressure to reform the border protection agency.

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