GENEVA In 2012, Switzerland’s reputation ranked 8th among 50 countries on the Nation Brand Index largely due to its good governance and system of direct democracy. A study by Presence Switzerland then categorized its overall image abroad as ‘good’. For the current situation, however, Presence Switzerland’s director, Nicolas Bideau, gave a more cautious assessment in a recent interview with Le Temps. “Overall, there is a rather negative tone in the coverage of the (9 February) vote,” he said, adding that his office will simply work harder to explain Switzerland’s unique system to others.
When the Swiss Secretary for EU affairs, Yves Rossier, meets with Euro diplomats in Brussels on 20 February, he will have his job cut out for him. Bern has already announced it will not sign an agreement to allow Croatia free access to the Swiss employment market. Neither side wants to activate a clause that would trigger suspension of all bilateral agreements if any one of them is violated. Both sides recognize that they benefit from Switzerland’s near complete access to the Union’s single market. Around one million EU citizens live in Switzerland out of an overall population of eight million. Conversely, some 430,000 Swiss nationals live in EU member states.