(as of september 2014)
08.432 n Parl. init. Switzerland must recognise its children
The parliamentary initiative submitted by National Councillor Ada Marra on 9 June 2008 proposed that third generation foreign nationals living in Switzerland should be able to apply for naturalisation at their own request or at the request of their parents. In general, after a preliminary examination of the initiative, both PICs recognised the need for legislation in this respect. The majority of committee members agreed that children born in Switzerland whose parents grew up in this country should no longer be seen as foreign nationals, but as part of Switzerland.
Following preparatory work by its sub-committee, the PIC-N launched a proposal on 5 November 2009 to amend the Federal Constitution and the Citizenship Act. The proposal aims to facilitate the naturalisation of third-generation foreign nationals and ensure uniform procedures across the country. The automatic granting of Swiss citizenship at birth (ius soli) is not envisaged.
On 15 April 2010, the committee acknowledged the mainly positive results of the consultation, but decided on 9 September 2010 to suspend its proposal to await the Federal Council’s draft text for the total revision of the Citizenship Act (11.022 n). When it met on 23 February 2012, the PIC decided to postpone debating its draft until deliberations on the total revision had been completed, as it would like to deal with this topic in a wider context. The committee will readdress the proposal during the fourth quarter of 2014.
10.403 n Parl.init. New system of support for the press
For several years now the PIC-N has been addressing the question of support for the press. As such it drew up the proposal that led to a system of indirect support for the press through preferential postal rates (06.425 n Parl. init. Supporting the press through subsidies for distribution costs). As part of the total revision of the Postal Services Act (09.049 n), the committee succeeded in securing the unlimited extension of these reduced postal rates, contrary to the Federal Council’s wishes.
In the medium term, however, the PIC-N would like to arrive at a practicable alternative to reduced postal rates. Accordingly, it submitted a committee initiative calling for an efficient and sustainable model for maintaining and promoting a varied and high-quality press; at the same time, a legal basis for such a model should be set up. Following the PIC-S’s approval of the initiative, the PIC-N set up a sub-committee to examine possible models and the pertinent basic legislatorial conditions in detail. In January 2012, at the request of its sub-committee, the PIC-N decided by 15 votes to 0 with 6 abstentions on a committee motion (12.3004), which was approved by the National Council in the spring session. In the 2012 summer session, the Council of States decided to follow its PIC’s recommendation and adopted the motion in part. It instructed the Federal Council to examine support for the press and to develop a funding concept, but decided not to instruct it to draft a specific bill yet at this stage. The PIC-N is expected to decide early next year, after the Federal Council’s presentation of the overview and the funding concept, how it intends to proceed with its parliamentary initiative.
13.030 s Foreign Nationals Act. Amendment. Integration
The legislative amendment proposed by the Federal Council aims to set out in greater detail the principle of integration policy whereby foreign nationals receive support, but are also expected to undertake efforts to integrate. It is also intended to clarify how tasks are allocated between the Confederation and the cantons by putting in place a coherent nationwide system to promote integration.
In the 2013 winter session, the Council of States was the first chamber to address the issue and approved it in a vote on the entire bill by 24 votes to 7 with 4 abstentions. The Council of States made its most important amendment at the request of its PIC, voting by 20 votes to 12 with one abstention to maintain the existing regulation under current legislation whereby the decision to grant a permanent residence permit remains at the discretion of the cantonal authorities even if the requirements are fulfilled. The Federal Council’s draft text envisaged that a permanent residence permit must be granted once the legally defined integration requirements are fulfilled. A minority in the Council of States rejected the proposal outright because the cost-benefit ratio of the proposed system of encouragement was unreasonable. The intended objectives of the revised law could also be achieved using existing legal instruments. Ultimately, integration is primarily the responsibility of immigrants themselves, not of the state.
The National Council addressed the proposal in the spring session of 2014. At the recommendation of its committee it decided to return the proposal to the Federal Council requesting it to present changes to the Federal Assembly setting out proposals for the implementation of the new constitutional provision on annual quantitative limits and quotas (Art 121a FC) introduced following the adoption of the popular vote against mass immigration on 9 February 2014.
Through their support for various parliamentary initiatives over the past few years (see years (see 06.485 n, 08.406 n, 08.420 n, 08.428 n), the PICs have repeatedly been made aware of the legislatorial need to improve requirements concerning the integration of foreign nationals, particularly with regard to residency rights and the acquisition of Swiss citizenship.
The National Council therefore attached a further condition to its decision to refer the proposal back to the Federal Council by requesting that these concerns expressed in these initiatives be taken into account in the new draft.
During the 2011 spring session, a committee motion was put forward by the PIC-N (10.3343 n) calling for the Federal Council to draft a specific law on integration or to revise the Foreign Nationals Act.
The Council of States approved the National Council’s decision to re-refer the proposal on 2 June 2014. The Federal Council is expected to issue a new dispatch or an additional dispatch on the matter to the Federal Assembly early next year.
13.056 n SCC and MCC. Deportation of criminal foreigners
Following the adoption by the electorate on 28 November 2010 of the popular initiative in favour of deporting criminal foreigners (09.060 s), which the PICs had discussed and recommended for rejection, the Federal Council was required to present to parliament draft implementing legislation. In its dispatch to parliament of 26 June 2013, the government proposed introducing a new form of deportation into the Swiss Criminal Code and Military Criminal Code, thereby taking account of the provisions in the Constitution regarding automatic deportation yet also considering existing constitutional principles and human rights guarantees.
At its meeting of 10 October 2013, the PIC-N, as the first committee to debate the issue, decided to pave the way for the implementation of the deportation initiative by setting out in the law the aims of the 'application initiative', submitted subsequently by the initiators of the deportation initiative which is still pending in parliament. At its meeting in February 2014, the committee approved the Federal Council's modified draft law, which was adopted by the National Council on 20 March 2014 by 106 votes to 65 with 11 abstentions.
In the second quarter of 2014 the PIC-S will have to decide whether or not to follow the National Council's proposal to directly implement the application initiative in the form of a law.
The PIC-S began its initial discussion of the bill in the second quarter of 2014. It is expected to present its proposals to the Council of States in the 2014 winter session.
13.091 n On the application of the constitutional provisions concerning the deportation of criminal foreign nationals (Application initiative)
Following the adoption of the popular initiative on the deportation of criminal foreign nationals (Deportation initiative) (09.060 s) by the people and the cantons in the popular vote of 28 November 2010, the same political circles launched the 'application initiative' with the aim of speeding up the substantive implementation of the deportation initiative at the constitutional level. Following the approval of proposal 13.056 (see above), which provides for the implementation of the deportation initiative in the Swiss Criminal Code and the Military Criminal Code, the National Council decided, at the request of the Federal Council and its PIC, by 100 votes to 51 with 20 abstentions, to declare the initiative to be partially invalid, and recommended it to be rejected by 131 votes to 51.
The Council of States is due to debate the initiative, along with legislation on the implementation of the deportation initiative, in the 2014 winter session. Its PIC voted by 7 votes to 6 to request the Council to declare the initiatve to be partially invalid (a large minority wished for it to be declared totally invalid), and by 11 votes to 1 and one abstention to recommend that the People and cantons reject the initiative.
13.418 / 13.419 / 13.420 / 13.421 / 13.422 n Pa.Iv. Parliamentary groups GL/ BD/ G/ S/Fiala. Equal treatment of registered partnerships and marriage in naturalisation procedure
Foreign nationals in a registered partnership should receive the same treatment as those who are married when wishing to become naturalised. On 30 August 2013, the PIC-N approved by 14 votes to 0 and 9 abstentions, five parliamentary initiatives which propose to amend the law so that persons in a registered partnership receive the same treatment as married couples in the naturalisation process. Considering that discrimination is prohibited under the Constitution, the PIC considers the current unequal treatment untenable.
The PIC-S examined the demands of the parliamentary initiatives in the first quarter of 2014. By approving the decision of the National Council committee by 5 votes to 1 with 4 abstentions, it gave the PIC-N the go-ahead to draw up the relevant legal basis. Once deliberations on the total revision of the Citizenship Act have been concluded, the committee will state in the second quarter how it plans to set about drafting a corresponding law and possibly a draft constitutional amendment.
13.443 n Pa.Iv. PIC-N. Appropriate representation of language communities in a Federal Council consisting of nine members
On 29 August 2013 the PIC-N came out in favour of drafting a committee initiative by 13 votes to 6 and three abstentions, to amend Article 175 of the Federal Constitution. The initiative would propose that the Federal Council should have nine members and that the different geographical and linguistic regions of the country should be represented in the government. On 27 January 2014 the PIC-S agreed by 6 votes to 3 and one abstention to give the PIC-N the go-ahead to draft a proposal to that effect.
14.063 s Asylum Act. Restructuring of the asylum system
A fundamental restructuring of the asylum procedure should mean that in future the majority of asylum applications can be processed and a decision reached much faster. To this end, regional federal centres will be set up where asylum seekers can be housed and their requests processed in an accelerated procedure lasting a maximum of 40 days, and where they will receive greater legal protection. The corresponding draft law by the Federal Council relates to the previous revision of the Asylum Act (see 10.052 s Asylum Act. Amendment), which the two chambers of parliament re-referred in part to the Federal Council, requesting the latter to propose ways of considerably speeding up the asylum procedure, in particular by establishing and expanding existing federal asylum centres. As part of this same revision of the law, the Councils had also decided on an urgent amendment which would allow the immigration authorities to start operating test centres. The PIC-S will initiate the debate on this proposal in the fourth quarter of 2014.