ETH Act: Last minute agreement

Parliament kept us in suspense once more during spring session. The ETH Act required a conciliation committee to reach a compromise between the National Council and the Council of States. On the other hand, the issue of the popular initiative "Yes to the ban on experiments on animals and humans" was clear: all parliamentary groups in the National Council rejected the proposal.
The conciliation committee had to fix the ETH Act and find a solution for the outstanding points. In doing so, it followed the Council of States. (©Swiss Parliament)

The conciliation committee had to fix the ETH Act and find a solution for the outstanding points. In doing so, it followed the Council of States. From now on it’s the role of the Federal Council to elect the ETH Appeals Commission instead of the ETH Board and it also issues its rules of procedure. The other sticking point was the possibility for the institutions of the ETH Domain to appeal against decisions of the ETH Board. The ETH Board can now make final decisions on employment and election matters as well as on the allocation of funds. In other areas, the institutions have the option of appealing to the Federal Administrative Court.

The revision of the ETH Act also regulates the recusal of institutional members of the ETH Board and the restriction of their voting rights, the use of security services and video surveillance, and contains various changes in personnel policy. 

No chance for the popular initiative "Yes to the ban on animal and human experimentation"

Animal experiments are a topic that leaves few indifferent, not even the parliament. More than 20 National Councillors spoke in the debate on the initiative (to be found on in German or French). From left to right wing, they all agreed that the initiative is too radical. It wants to ban all research on animals – and on humans. In addition, the trade as well as the import and export of all products should be banned if they have been tested on animals.

The National Council therefore clearly recommended the rejection of the popular initiative. In addition, it rejected various minority motions. For example, representatives of the SP and the Greens wanted a gradual phase-out of stressful animal experiments. The Council of States is now going to discuss the popular initiative. The referendum will be held at the end of November 2021 at the earliest.

Animal experiments will remain on the political agenda. During spring session, various motions were submitted on this subject. Among other things, they address the promotion of 3R research (Replace, Reduce, Refine), animal experiments with severity level 3, and the housing conditions for laboratory and animal experiments.

The ETH Appeals Commission

The ETH Appeals Commission is the first-instance commission which rules on appeals against decisions or decrees of the ETH Domain institutions. The complaints as a rule involve personnel and university law issues. The rulings of the ETH Appeals Committee can be appealed against at the Swiss Federal Administrative Court.