On 15 May 2022, the Swiss electorate will vote on the Adoption of the Regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).
Switzerland is part of the Schengen Area, which makes it party to the control of the area’s borders by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) an organisation that Switzerland has been working with for more than a decade.
Since the end of 2019 plans have been hatched to expand Frontex and extra funding has been agreed by member states and the Swiss government. However, opposition has led to a referendum aimed at overturning the Swiss government’s decision to provide more money and resources to Frontex. Opponents argue that by funding the border force Switzerland will be complicit in alleged human rights violations by the organisation.
Under the bill put forward by Switzerland’s Federal Council and Parliament, Switzerland would play its part in Frontex’s reform. Its financial contribution would gradually increase and it would also provide more staff and material.
According to the government, if Switzerland rejects the plan, its cooperation with the Schengen and Dublin states would end automatically unless the EU states and the European Commission decided to somehow accommodate Switzerland.
The Federal Council, Parliament and the Council of States are all in favour of supporting the expansion of Frontex. However, the margins are narrow. In parliament 88 voted in favour, 80 voted against, and an unusually high 28 abstained. Votes in the Council of States, Switzerland’s upper house, were more supportive of the move with 30 in favour, 14 against, with no abstentions.
Based on polling in early May 2022, voters look set to come out in support of the government. 69% were in favour of increased support for Frontex, with 45% fully in favour and a further 24% fairly in favour.