Federal Council commissions maritime strategy

Bern, 16.02.2022 - At its meeting of 16 February 2022, the Federal Council mandated the FDFA to draw up a comprehensive maritime strategy in cooperation with the departments concerned and in consultation with the business community, the scientific community and the social partners. The strategy is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of Switzerland's interests in the maritime sector and to set out benchmarks, goals and measures. Accordingly, draft legislation on international shipping under the Swiss flag is to be drawn up in order to enhance the long-term effectiveness of Swiss legislation in this area and make Swiss shipping more competitive and sustainable.

Although Switzerland is a landlocked country, the world's oceans play a significant role in its economy. As a country that is highly integrated in the world economy, Switzerland is dependent on global maritime transport. Switzerland has a significant maritime economic sector, especially in logistics. In the global ranking of maritime ship-owning nations, it is 13th in terms of the aggregate value of vessels registered under its flag. Switzerland also uses marine resources and has an interest in protecting the oceans from pollution and in the preservation of biodiversity.

The Federal Council's aim in commissioning the maritime strategy is to provide a comprehensive overview of Switzerland's interests in the maritime sector, to enhance the coherence of its policy in this area and to ensure that the federal offices concerned coordinate their activities. The strategy will encompass international law, the economy, the environment, social policy, science and the Swiss flag. In the course of its deliberations on the strategy, the Federal Council concluded that Switzerland ought to continue to make its flag available to commercial maritime shipping. The corresponding legislation is to be brought up to date in line with the benchmarks set out in the strategy in order to enhance its long-term effectiveness and make Swiss shipping more competitive and sustainable.
Competitive and sustainable: international shipping under the Swiss flag
Legislation on commercial maritime shipping under the Swiss flag is in certain respects outdated and therefore also places Switzerland at a competitive disadvantage internationally. A very small proportion of Swiss-owned ships sail under the Swiss flag. The legal provisions are therefore to be reviewed and amended where necessary. Easier registration requirements and tax incentives are to be accompanied by higher safety and sustainability standards as well as robust supervisory and sanctioning mechanisms. The Federal Council aims to thereby establish a secure and reliable long-term regulatory framework.

Against this backdrop, the regulations on international recreational navigation and national regulatory provisions for international navigation on the Rhine are to be reviewed at the same time and where necessary amended.

The maritime strategy commissioned by the Federal Council is to be presented by autumn 2022. The draft amendments to the legislation on the Swiss flag are to be submitted to the Federal Council in spring 2023.

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