Antoine, one of our representatives in the Council of the Swiss Abroad, put together this report from the March meeting.

The spring meeting of the Council of the Swiss (CSA) abroad took place in Bern on March 15, 2024. The day prior to the meeting, the delegates met with members of the Federal parliament at the Parliament Building in Bern.

Present from Canada were Antoine Belaieff (delegate from Ontario) and Thomas Arn (delegate from British Columbia). Philippe Magnenat (Delegate from Québec) joined the meeting online.

It was a pleasure for the participants to meet fellow delegates from all over the world in person, as well as members of the Swiss Parliament, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the OSA partner organisations such as banks and educationsuisse.

Issues presented and discussed during the two days were:

  • Importance of E-Government / E-ID, as in many countries the problem also lies in receiving the voting documents in time. As a great step forward, the National Council just approved the proposed E-ID bill, with hopes high that E-ID is introduced in 2026. Read more
  • Ensuring the continuation of the free movement of persons within EU. The official negotiations on the future relationship between Bern and Brussels have begun. Read more
  • Removing obstacles in the area of social insurance, an example being finding a solution for health insurance when adequate insurance is not available. The parliamentary proposal Postulat Schneider-Schneiter will be discussed in the National Council.
  • The importance of maintaining a consular network despite the pressure to cut costs—the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad welcomed the decision of the Department of Foreign Affairs to not close any representations in 2023. Still, the Department of Foreign Affairs must save CHF 40 million in 2025, so there may be changes within some representations, with staff numbers and duties being adjusted. David Grichting, Director of the Consular Division, mentioned the updated country specific information for those moving abroad, available on the FDFA’s website (information on Canada). Since Ambassador Grichting was about to leave on a trip to Ottawa and Montréal, Antoine specifically asked him to ensure that the mobile passport office would visit Ontario this year.
  • The incoming Consul General in Montréal, Anne-Béatrice Bullinger. Anne-Béatrice and Antoine went to primary school together for several years. She worked in Canada earlier in her career and is very excited about her upcoming posting. She looks forward to visiting Ontario and meeting with our community.

  • The importance of independent and high-quality information for the Swiss abroad. The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad’s position is to protect funding for SRG/Swissinfo. More information: media release OSA

  • Given the big success of the webinars offered to Swiss Abroad in 2023, more webinars on topics relevant to the Swiss Abroad will be offered in 2024. The focus this year will be on Swiss Abroad returning temporarily or for good to Switzerland. See dates and more information on the upcoming webinars, here and for the recorded previous webinars (e.g., on Military Service) scroll further down on the page of the link provided.
  • The unique offer to attendees of the Congress of the Swiss Abroad by Swiss Travel Pass will be available again this year. A 75%(!) discount is available to all participants of the Congress of the Swiss Abroad and allows you to explore Switzerland on public transport at low costs (kids up to 16 travel for free with the free family card).
  • Banks present at the meeting, offering accounts to Swiss Abroad with no minimal deposit:

    • BCGE. Branches are in Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich and Basel. Contact Details:, +41 61 226 61 00 (German, French, English) Yearly fees ~ CHF 156 (per 1.1.24). T&C apply. Please note an appointment is necessary.

    • ZKB. Contact Details: Yearly fees ~ CHF 360 (per 1.1.24). T&C apply. Please note an appointment is necessary.

  • More democratic elections of the delegates of the Council of the Swiss Abroad in the different countries. A working group has set itself the task of proposing and promoting a standardised process for democratic elections. Australia, the UK and Mexico were some of the role models for the wider implementation of direct elections, as it has moved from a system of election by the clubs to voting rights for all registered Swiss in 2017. Antoine is an active member of the working group.

  • Increasing the political participation of Swiss Abroad. This is the aim of a working group established last year. The group is collaborating with other stakeholders who are also committed to increasing political participation and investigating ways to improve the current situation. Initiators of this work were Carmen Trochsler, member of the committee, and Antoine. Antoine remains an active member of the working group chaired by National Council member Laurent Wehrli (PLR, VD).

  • A Working group “Lobbying/Communication” is complementing the work of the parliamentary Group Swiss Abroad (consisting of members of the Federal Swiss Parliament) on a cantonal level. The aim is to make interests and expectations of the Swiss abroad better known at the cantonal level and establish and maintain working relationships. Antoine is a passive member of the group.

  • Review of the legal framework and the legal structure of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad. The goal is to clarify and simplify the set of regulations and to ensure that the legal structure allows OSA to carry out its tasks effectively and respond flexibly to changed needs and environments. Antoine is in close contact with Carmen Trochsler, a member of this working group.