FECL 27 (September 1994):

SWISS BORDER AND SECURITY COOPERATION WITH GERMANY AND THE EU

In contradiction to its persistent claims that non-membership of the EU is jeopardizing the country's co-operation with the rest of Europe in the domains of policing and border control, the Swiss government is moving swiftly towards a de facto integration of its policies in the field EU structures. Germany is supportive.

On 20 July, the Swiss General Secretary of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, Armin Walpen, met his German counterpart, Kurt Schelter, State Secretary at the Federal Interior Ministry, in Weil am Rhein, a German suburb of the Swiss border city of Basel. The meeting focused on internal and border security.

Mr. Walpen and Mr. Schelter agreed that the problem of security could be solved only by international co-operation - regardless of membership of the European Union. With regard to Swiss-German co-operation at the common border there are "no problems and co-operation is functioning very well" according to the two high-ranking officials.

 

Return of unwanted foreigners

Germany and Switzerland have already signed a bi-lateral agreement on the reciprocal return of asylum seekers in accordance with the "safe third country" principle. Thus asylum seekers having entered Germany via Switzerland can be returned to Switzerland and vice versa. The treaty is to enter into force after its ratification early in 1995.

The German delegation also confirmed that the Schengen-member states have no objection to Swiss plans to accede to the

Schengen-Poland agreement on the return of foreigners, possibly before the end of this year. Switzerland is particularly interested in such an arrangement as this would include Italy, the main transit country for immigrants entering Switzerland illegally.

Moreover, on 1 May 1995, the Dublin Convention will enter into force. With this, the way will be open for negotiating parallell treaties with non-EC "partner countries" such as Switzerland, the German State Secretary said. The Dublin Convention's provisions regulate which member state is responsible for dealing with an asylum application as the country of first entry.

 

Police and border control

Mr. Walpen also emphasised Switzerland's strong interest in close cooperation with Europol with a view to protecting the EU's external borders.

Alluding to Switzerland's non-membership of the EU, the delegate of the German Interior Ministry said that "opportunities of actual participation must be created on the basis of the existing legal premises". Mr. Schelter named an arrangement reached at the meeting in Weil as a concrete example of how such de facto participation can be realised. The arrangement provides for the integration of Swiss liaison officers both in the German BKA (Federal Office of Criminal Investigation) and in the German Border Protection Board in Koblenz.

 

Sources: Basler Zeitung, 21.7.94; Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 22.7.94