Thriller about the cohesion contribution

The National Council and the Council of States approved the cohesion contribution in the autumn session, which ended on October 1. The road to this point was rocky and full of twists and turns. A report.
Several parliamentarians have tabled a motion to allow the National Council to debate the release of the cohesion billion during the autumn session. (©Swiss Parliament)

In order for the second cohesion contribution to selected EU member states to be approved, it needed the consent of the National Council and the Council of States (click here for more on the legislative procedure). The Council of States was the first to deal with this thorny issue and tried to ensure that the National Council would not be able to deal with it until the winter session, in an attempt to submit the matter to the ordinary parliamentary procedure. It therefore put it on the agenda for the last possible day, Thursday of the third week of the session. The National Council nevertheless put the matter on its agenda, only to remove it again shortly afterwards. It seemed that the matter was over, and  adoption in the autumn session would no longer be possible.

But an unexpected twist occurred on Monday of the last week of the session: several national councilors tabled a motion stipulating that the lower house should deal with the issue in the autumn session of 2021 after the initial discussion in the Council of States. In concrete terms, this meant that the National Council should meet "open end" on Thursday evening. Christian Wasserfallen (FDP/BE) named the great interest of the education and science location in normalising relations between Switzerland and the EU as the reason for the motion. The motion was passed by an extremely narrow margin of 93 votes to 88 with 4 abstentions. The foundations had now been laid for both Councils to deal with the cohesion contribution. On Wednesday evening, various rumours were doing the rounds: Will there be a counter-motion to cancel the deal? Will the opponents try to go on talking until the session is over and no more votes can be taken?

In the end, both the Council of States and the National Council clearly said yes to the release of the second cohesion contribution. There is now great hope that there will be movement in the Switzerland-EU dossier and that Switzerland's rapid and complete association with Horizon Europe will come closer.

Gene Technology Act: National Council extends moratorium for another four years

The National Council has extended the moratorium on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms in agriculture for another four years (until the end of 2025). The decision was clear with 144:27 votes and 19 abstentions. In addition, the National Council adopted a proposal from its Committee for Science, Education and Culture. This mandates the Federal Council to use the time until 2025 to create reliable information as a basis for decision-making. Among other things, the risks of the new genetic technologies are to be assessed. Now it is the turn of the Council of States. It is expected to deal with the gene technology moratorium in the winter session of 2021.