June 2024: 10 things expats in Switzerland need to know

June 2024: 10 things expats in Switzerland need to know

From high-stakes peace summits and dramatic referendums to fighter jets and football, June 2024 is set to be jam-packed full of important events and changes in Switzerland. Here’s what you need to know about the month ahead:

1. Swiss parliament's summer session

While it officially began on May 27, the Swiss parliament’s summer session is expected to be in full swing by June. Lawmakers from the National Council (lower house) and Council of States (upper house) will convene to debate and enact legislation on the key issues facing the country today.

While a great number of things will be discussed, much of the session is expected to be devoted to debates over military spending and plans for austerity measures. Both chambers are also set to discuss what Switzerland’s response should be to the latest climate ruling by the European Court of Human Rights and the results of the upcoming referendums (see below).

2. Fighter jets to land on A1 motorway in Switzerland

On June 5, the Swiss military is set to perform a rather strange exercise: using a motorway to land its fighter jets. Between June 4 and 6, the A1 motorway between Payerne and Avenches, Canton Vaud will be closed to traffic for 36 hours, so that jet pilots can practice landing and taking off from the road.

During the Cold War, parts of motorways in Switzerland were designed so that fighter jets could land on them if the country’s airports were destroyed during an attack. While the test in June will give the Swiss Air Force crucial time to practice and gather data, the Federal Roads Office (Astra) has warned of “veritable traffic chaos” in and around the exercise due to the road closure.

3. Switzerland heads to the polls on June 9

On June 9, Swiss citizens will go to the polls to vote on four federal referendums, the most prominent of which is a plan to cap the cost of basic health insurance in Switzerland to 10 percent of a person’s salary or income. 

Following two successive years of premium increases for basic health insurance, supporters of the plan say that the cap would help those on lower incomes make ends meet. The government vehemently opposes the idea, arguing that it will cost billions to implement.

Plans to link health insurance premium increases to salaries, reforms to Switzerland’s energy policy and a proposal designed to guarantee “physical and mental integrity” when it comes to healthcare are also set to be voted on. With the opinion polls continuing to narrow, June 9 promises to be a nail-biter. 

For more information about how each proposal would impact you, check our expat guide to the Swiss national referendums in June 2024.

4. Geneva to vote on expanding expat voting rights

Alongside the federal votes, Geneva will also decide on a plan that would expand political rights for long-term international residents of the city. If approved, those who have been residents of Geneva for more than eight years would be given the right to vote in cantonal elections.

In a first for Switzerland, the plan would also give these expats the right to stand for office in the Geneva Grand Council and Council of State. The results of the vote are expected by June 10 at the latest.

5. Trains between Switzerland and Milan to be disrupted

Due to construction work in other countries, public transport services between Switzerland and its neighbours are set to be disrupted in the coming months. This will start on June 9, with the cutting on the line between Domodossola and Milan in Italy due to engineering works.

This means that travellers from western Switzerland will no longer benefit from direct trains between Geneva, Lausanne and Milan for at least three months. Travellers on the route will have to take the train from Switzerland to Domodossola, then wait for a replacement bus service to take them to Milan, adding at least an hour to journey times.

The closure of the line by Trenitalia has not gone down well in the Swiss parliament, with transport committee member Bruno Storni (SP) calling the change “embarrassing.” For its part, Swiss Federal Railways confirmed that it would be setting up direct bus services from Geneva and Lausanne to Milan, with three buses planned to run in each direction each day.

6. Women’s strike in Switzerland set for June 14

On June 14, people across Swiss cities and cantons will turn out in the streets and march as part of the annual Women’s Strike. The demonstrations - often the largest seen in Switzerland every year - demand equal pay, a nationwide minimum wage, flexible working hours, publicly-funded childcare and a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment and violence.

Current data from the Federal Office for Gender Equality reveals that women earn an average of 1.500 francs or 18 percent less per month compared to men in Switzerland, a gap which increases by seniority and peaks just before retirement. The Office estimates that while 52,2 percent of the gap can be “attributed to factors such as occupation, sector, education or professional position,” the remainder cannot be explained by data and most likely “constitutes gender-related pay discrimination.”

The march in 2024 will also focus on increasing the retirement age for women to 65 years as part of AHV21, a change which the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions called a “rip-off” that will see women’s pensions fall further compared to men’s. You can see where your nearest protest will be on the official website.

7. Ukraine Peace Summit to be held on the Bürgenstock

Just a day later on June 15, the eyes of the world will turn to the Bürgenstock as Switzerland hosts a high-level conference on how peace in Ukraine can be achieved, following the Russian invasion of the country in 2022. The Federal Office for Foreign Affairs wrote in a statement that the summit aims to find a way to achieve practical and long-lasting peace in the region.

In recent months, the momentum of the fighting has seemed to have swung away from Ukraine and towards a stalemate and even Russia in some cases - thanks to a combination of attrition and western hesitancy to produce and provide arms and ammunition to Ukrainian forces - making peace talks all the more vital.

Currently, 70 states and groups have accepted the Swiss government's invitation to attend, including India, Germany and the European Union, while 160 delegations have been invited - there is still some debate about whether US President Joe Biden will visit the conference. Russia was not invited, though it told the BBC that it would not have attended anyway, accusing Switzerland of abandoning its neutrality in imposing sanctions on the country.

8. First day of summer and the beginning of the Swiss school holidays

With May being awash with public holidays, many workers in Switzerland may be forlorn to hear that no statutory holidays are set to occur in June this year. Sadly for the residents of Canton Jura, their Independence Day (June 23) falls on a Sunday this year, meaning they will also be deprived of an extra day off.

However, the end of June will bring with it the beginning of the school holidays in several Swiss cantons. June 20 will also mark the astronomical end of spring and the start of summertime - let’s hope the weather in Switzerland improves by then!

9. Pride Month gets underway in Switzerland

Switzerland is expected to be a sea of vibrancy and colour in June with the coming of Pride Month - 30 days dedicated to LGBTQ+ visibility! While there will be plenty of pride events taking place in Switzerland across the month, the highlight has to be the Zurich Pride Festival on June 14 and 15. 

One of the largest of its kind in Switzerland, the event in 2024 will turn the Landiwiese into a party hotspot, featuring famous national and international artists. All are welcome to join and let their hair down!

10. Switzerland to compete in the European Football Championships

Finally, fans of football will be given a real treat this summer thanks to the UEFA European Football Championships in Germany. The first game of the tournament will pit the hosts against underdogs Scotland in Munich on June 14, with Switzerland’s first game coming just a day later against Hungary in Cologne.

Switzerland’s other group games will be against Scotland on June 19 and against Germany on June 23. If the Swiss team comes first, second or is one of the four highest-scoring third-place teams, their round of 16 matches will take place between June 30 and July 2.

Elsewhere in football, while Young Boys of Bern may have already secured the Swiss Super League, Servette of Geneva are still to face Lugano in the Swiss Cup final. That game is due to take place in Bern on June 2. 

For all those watching the Euros decked out in Swiss flags and facepaint, Hopp Schwiiz!

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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