Amman – saraha news
SWI swissinfo.ch: Minister Cassis, the eID vote is set to be a close one. You have invited us here to discuss it. Does the government need the Swiss abroad in order to secure a majority “yes” vote?
Ignazio Cassis: Yes, of course the government needs the Swiss abroad. It needs a majority. Whether this majority comes from Swiss at home or Swiss living elsewhere isn’t important. But expatriate Swiss have an added reason to back the project because they want good, customer-friendly consular services. Customer-friendly means you don’t have to drive two hours to prove your identity at a counter or go to the trouble of sending your passport or a copy of it by post. The eID is a panacea enabling simple and safe identification for consular services.
SWI: Swiss expats have been fighting for years against cuts in Switzerland’s foreign service. Recently your ministry said small consulates will be strengthened. Where will these upgrades take place?
I.C.: A needs assessment is underway. But we are talking about a restructuring rather than an upgrade – jobs will be moved from headquarters to operations abroad. In the past years we have cut jobs in external locations for staff who can be relocated and replaced them with local hires. Throughout the coronavirus crisis we have established how important it is to have a strong network abroad in order to support Swiss citizens in need. Smaller facilities reach their capacity limits quickly in a global crisis like this. Of course, we can send support staff from Bern, but some missions need to be fundamentally strengthened with both consular and diplomatic staff.