Switzerland. A diplomatic dispute arose in February when
it became clear that Germany had bought a stolen list of
names of German taxpayers with accounts in Switzerland of a
former bank employee. According to
Switzerland has a population of 8.545 million (2019). Germany defended the purchase and
referred to a similar purchase of stolen information from
Liechtenstein in 2008. Later Switzerland announced that from
October, it will not help other countries to investigate tax
forfeiture if the information comes from stolen data.
After several trips, a two-year-old conflict with Libya
was set. Two Swiss businessmen detained in Libya were
released, and in June the countries signed an agreement on
normalized relations. Before that, the EU had been drawn
into the conflict when Libya introduced visa halt for
citizens of the Passport Union Schengen in response to Swiss
visa restrictions. It was unclear whether the EU or
Switzerland had made concessions to Libya to reach the
settlement. The conflict arose when Swiss police in 2008
temporarily arrested a son of Libyan leader Muammar
al-Khadaffi accused of assault. Libya reacted with financial
sanctions to Switzerland and detained the two Swiss.
A change of government in September led Switzerland for
the first time to have a government with more women than
The world's longest train tunnel became a fact when a
giant drill broke through one last piece of rock during the
Sankt Gotthard massif in October. The 57 kilometer long
railway tunnel shortens the transport distance between
Switzerland and Italy. Fewer tractor transports through the
Alpine landscape will yield environmental benefits when the
tunnel is put into operation.
The Swiss People's Party (SVP) obtained a referendum on
the automatic expulsion of foreign nationals committing
crimes. In November, voters said yes to the bill, which was
expected to include burglaries and social security fraud.
The issue was disputed in the country where about a fifth of
the residents lack citizenship. The law, whose details have
not been drawn up, also runs the risk of conflicting with
international agreements concluded by Switzerland.