Joining the discussion instead of lamenting

Dominik Marbet
September 18, 2020
Politics
Our democracy lives on an open-discussion culture in which we would like to take part as a company.

Everyone has an opinion

Baloise plays a role right in the middle of people’s lives. However, when it comes to participating in the direct democratic process, companies are not allowed to get involved and must simply observe events from the sidelines. Ideally, they’ll do so in silence. But why shouldn’t the baker have an opinion despite the fact that the whole political spectrum buys his bread rolls? After all, we don’t stipulate how anyone should vote.

From moderation to enough is enough

What is the limitation Initiative about?

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On 27 September 2020, the Swiss population will vote on the limitation initiative. This will tackle the question of what is considered moderate and when enough is enough. Immigration to Switzerland is increasing, albeit not to the same extent as a few years ago. The main reason behind the immigration is the free movement of persons and the still-growing labour supply in Switzerland.

Immigration as an economy booster

The economy is growing and thus the demand for labour. Skilled immigrants alleviate the shortage of specialists in companies, while less-qualified immigrants carry out the work that Swiss citizens no longer wish to perform, for example in the healthcare sector.

Reducing the shortage of specialists is particularly important for SMEs with specialised products and/or in border regions. Without immigration, these companies would find it difficult to position themselves as attractive employers within the cut-throat competition with larger employers.

Infrastructure-related challenges

It is evident that the economy benefits from the free movement of persons, but it doesn’t do so to the detriment of Swiss employees. Thanks to the prosperity in Switzerland, wage levels are constantly growing and unemployment rates are stable. However, it is indisputable that Switzerland will need to overcome certain infrastructure-related challenges (e.g. traffic, housing policy, social welfare establishments) due to the population growth.

It is evident that the economy benefits from the free movement of persons, but it doesn’t do so to the detriment of Swiss employees.

Dominik Marbet, Head Public Affairs & Sustainability

The risks associated with limitation

Companies manage their risks and legal security is a key aspect. It is only possible to invest in a site, train employees, create and retain jobs by assessing and managing business risks accordingly. Political and contractual uncertainty with our biggest trade partner, the EU, would unsettle large parts of the economy. Economic growth in Switzerland and thus our prosperity is based, in large part, on the fact that we are an exporting country since the internal market is too small. Switzerland therefore isn’t a significant sales market for large parts of the economy but our national economy benefits from the fact that many investments, jobs and taxes arise in Switzerland.

Our position

As a company, Baloise also benefits from the free movement of persons. In the region of Basel alone, around 12 per cent of our employees are cross-border commuters. However, we are also aware of the responsibility we have toward our society as a company with Swiss roots. This is why we actively take part in political dialogue as a company in order to make our viewpoints transparent and our motivations understandable.

Baloise supports the negative stance of the Swiss Insurance Association (SIA) against the limitation initiative. The initiative effectively requires a termination of the free movement of persons as Switzerland would need to regulate immigration itself again via a quota system. With the loss of the free movement of persons, all bilateral contracts are on the line.

Viewpoint as an insurer aiming to create value

As an insurer, we depend greatly on economic activity and the prosperity of our country. A termination of bilateral contracts and great uncertainties with regard to cooperation with a significant trading partner such as the EU would damage the national economy and thus affect our activities. Baloise wishes to create value for all its stakeholders and sees itself as strongly rooted in Switzerland. We would also like to continue investing the Switzerland site as an attractive employer and training organisation.

We would like to apply our expertise to help overcome the challenges associated with immigration. However, we believe that the limitation initiative is not the solution for this. Quite the contrary, this proposal brings with it additional uncertainty which we, as Baloise, would like to avoid particularly during these unprecedented times. We therefore oppose the limitation initiative as a company.

Sustainability

We contribute to the sustainable development of a society.