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Community Talks on “Res Publica Digitalis – eGovernment reimagined” (in German)

With its discussion paper on a “Res Publica Digitalis”, digitalswitzerland’s “eGovernment” working group is making an appeal for increased intercommunal and inter-cantonal cooperation in the area of eGovernment. A people-centred approach, efficient and based on the population and the economy, is the best way to advance the digitalisation of the public sector in our federal system.

This discussion paper and the working group responsible for it were developed between the end of April and the beginning of August 2023 and followed from the definition of thematic priorities in the context of a strategy workshop of the Public Affairs Committee of digitalswitzerland on 12 January 2023.

Switzerland needs a vision of how artificial intelligence can be used for Switzerland’s growth and prosperity – wisely regulated and at the centre of public dialogue. digitalswitzerland’s “Artificial Intelligence” working group has addressed this issue and identified five key areas that Switzerland needs to talk about: Technology & Economy, Regulation, Education, the Dialogue with the Public and Leadership.

This discussion paper and the working group responsible for it were developed between the end of April and the beginning of August 2023 and followed on from the definition of thematic priorities at a strategy workshop held by digitalswitzerland’s Public Affairs Committee on 12 January 2023.

The “EU Digital Policy” working group of digitalswitzerland calls for Switzerland to have a more focused and conscious discussion about its relationship with the European Union on digital issues. What is ultimately at stake are locational advantages, smooth business operations for Swiss companies in the EU, and connectivity and compatibility with all the important digital markets and systems in Europe and around the world.

This discussion paper and the working group responsible for it were developed between the end of April and the beginning of August 2023 and followed from the definition of thematic priorities during a strategy workshop held by digitalswitzerland’s Public Affairs Committee on 12 January 2023.

As one of 13 organisations, digitalswitzerland has campaigned for the approval of the business 22.067 so that it can be referred back to the government policy committee. The issue concerns the facilitation of admission for foreigners with a Swiss university degree.

Find the full statement here in German and French.

The Council of States decided today to re-enter deliberation. We are pleased with this result and hope that the government policy committee, together with the administration, will work out an implementation of the business that conforms to the constitution.

Switzerland is missing out

The deal is about ensuring that several hundred graduates per year, who are financed in Switzerland with public money, have access to the labour market. Switzerland invests almost CHF 200 million per year in the training of these professionals.

As a result, Switzerland is missing out on urgently needed labour potential to combat the shortage of skilled workers. Sufficient availability of qualified skilled workers strengthens Switzerland’s innovative power and its potential as an international location for research and development is further expanded.

In its latest version, the legislative proposal for business 22.067 is not constitutional. However, in its dispatch on the matter, the Federal Council outlines constitutional solutions that would require a change to the Ordinance on Admission, Period of Stay and Employment (ASEO): An upward adjustment of the quotas, or an adjustment of the process for granting residence permits to graduates. A combination of these two. Variants would also be conceivable. Simplifying the process for granting residence permits is crucial, firstly so that it is foreseeable which and how many people from third countries who have a Swiss university degree want to look for work in Switzerland, and secondly so that the process is not too onerous and too deterrent for start-ups and SMEs, which are most affected by the shortage of skilled workers.

In our view, re-entering deliberation serves the cause best. This means that the business can go back to the state policy committee so that more precise clarifications can be made with the administration and constitutionally compliant solutions can be discussed.

The following organisations have signed the letter:

The winter session will deal with a smaller number of political issues with a clear digital connection (about 15) than the previous autumn session (more than 30).

The focus of the winter session will undoubtedly be on the election of the two Federal Councillors. In addition, the “hot topic” of energy and the implementation of the OECD tax bill will dominate both chambers.

A central concern for the digitalisation of Switzerland is the Federal Act on the Use of Electronic Means for the Performance of Official Duties (EMBAG). This is currently in the process of being amended. If the law is adopted, which we assume it will be, the following principles will be realised in the public sector, more specifically in the area of e-government: open government data, open standards and open source. Furthermore, the EMBAG enables the start-up financing of public-private digitalisation projects of public interest. digitalswitzerland has campaigned for the EMBAG and is we hope that this milestone towards the principle of “digital first” will be reached.

The Federal Council opened the consultation on the proposal for a new e-ID law. digitalswitzerland notes that the proposal for a new e-ID law resonates broadly with our members by setting the framework for a trust infrastructure whose core element is a government-issued e-ID. digitalswitzerland welcomes the strategic direction of the preliminary draft.

However, we are convinced that electronic identity can only become widely accepted in Switzerland if it is embedded in an inclusive ecosystem of electronic credentials. We consider it essential to include this aspect in the purpose article of the law. We also consider the regular audit of state-operated infrastructure, a vehicle for expert input on technological law implementation, fee structure according to international standards, and regulation of private confirmation mechanisms to be useful.

A brief summary of the key proposals:

  1. Equal status for e-ID and e-ID ecosystem.
    Ensure that the e-ID, as the main credential of the ecosystem, thrives in a broad ecosystem that includes the private sector. The law should express this intention more clearly.
  2. Expert input on the technological implementation of the law
    Create an instrument that allows for the involvement of experts from academia and industry in the implementation of the law (e.g. UX, security).
  3. Fee structure according to international standards
    Follow internationally accepted principles for connectivity of SSI networks and make them free of charge for users (e.g. Sovrin Foundation rulebook).
  4. Regulate private confirmation mechanisms
    Ensure that sector-specific trusted third parties or organisations can continue to perform their function in the digital ecosystem (e.g. swissuniversities).
  5. Cybersecurity from the very beginning
    Check the structure of the Fedpol system for issuing E-IDs technically and procedurally for security issues. This should be anchored in the law.

The full statement can be found here in German and French.

In a letter dated 18 May 2022, the consultation on the Maturity Recognition Ordinance and the Administrative Agreement on the Recognition of Maturity Certificates was launched. digitalswitzerland thanks economiesuisse for this opportunity and is happy to comment from the perspective of the digital economy. We would like to state that we fully support economiesuisse’s statement.

Read our full consultation in German or French.

In partnership with BilanzHandelszeitung and PME, we are delighted to celebrate the 100 Digital Shapers who have made a huge contribution to Switzerland’s digital future. Read detailed interviews with all 100 Digital Shapers in this dedicated Bilanz publication.

We also spoke to a selection of winners to find out more about their fascinating work, what motivates them, their greatest challenges and more. Read our quote series.

We extend a warm congratulations to all Shapers and thank them for their efforts and continued resilience and visionary thinking.

This year the following 10 categories covered:

1. The Infrastructure Builders
People who contribute to a solid digital infrastructure in order to allow digital change. Includes politicians & administration.

2. The Connectors
People who build ecosystems, connect actors and bridge regional gaps for collaborative projects in the digital sphere.

3. The Unicorn Breeders
People who are about to build or are of critical importance to build a startup company, which is now valued at over US$1 billion.

4. The Digital Manufacturers
Leaders of digital manufacturing companies or technology solution providers and subject-matter experts who are an inspiration for the future of Swiss digital manufacturing.

5. The Avatars
People who create or make use of new realities (Augmented, Virtual, Mixed) to enable great things.

6. The AI Masters
Masterminds who are revolutionising Artificial Intelligence.

7. The eMedics
People who use digital transformation to enhance different aspects of wellbeing, health and medicine.

8. The Foodies
People who use digital transformation to reshape our current nutrition towards healthier and more sustainable solutions.

9. The Nature Techies
People who use digital transformation for the sake of protecting, monitoring or enhancing nature.

10. The Cybersecurity Guards
People who, with protective solutions, regulations, awareness-raising and innovations in cyber space, enable us to move safely and not be victims of cyberattacks.

Discover more about the jury behind selecting our deserving winners here and take a look at past winners and interviews from 2021 and 2020.

*Image source: Matthias Schardt, / Digital Shapers