Simon Michel: the lone fighter for better relations with the EU – News


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The trade unions and the SVP are loudly criticizing the further development of bilateral relations. The proponents, on the other hand, are noticeably silent. An exception is the Solothurn entrepreneur and FDP National Councilor Simon Michel.

In the past, entrepreneur Simon Michel would have been called a classic “patron”. The 47-year-old is the boss and co-owner of the medtech company Ypsomed with over 2,000 employees. Major in the army. Involved in associations. And since December he has also been a Solothurn FDP National Councilor. The FDP sees him as a bearer of hope. Because he is one of the few entrepreneurs who want to get involved politically and expose themselves.

Legend:

Simon Michel has been the CEO of the medtech company Ypsomed since 2014. In December he was elected to the National Council in the canton of Solothurn for the FDP.

Archive/Keystone/ANTHONY ANEX

When it comes to the EU, Michel leans way out of the window. Michel is fighting for new bilateral agreements, especially on social media. He is running against the unions and the SVP. His sector, the medtech industry, was the first to be affected by the bilateral path coming to a standstill. Because the EU no longer updated the agreement on technical barriers to trade, Michel had to have his insulin syringes and pumps re-certified within the EU.

This makes Switzerland unattractive, cumbersome and expensive.

So isn’t the medtech industry in particular showing that the problems with the EU can be solved independently? “That’s right,” says Simon Michel, but the effort was enormous. “Over a thousand companies had to have their products re-certified.” This threatens 19 other industries in the next few years. “And that makes Switzerland unattractive, cumbersome and expensive,” warns the entrepreneur.

The SVP started its campaign against new contracts with the EU even before Switzerland negotiated with the EU. “It is the most important fight since the EEA vote,” says SVP parliamentary group leader Thomas Aeschi, “it would be gradual accession to the EU.” Union leader Pierre-Yves Maillard rejects the negotiating mandate and has left the negotiating table. Wage protection is not guaranteed.

Reluctance among supporters

Simon Michel is currently fighting pretty much alone on the proponents’ side. Neither business nor the pro-European parties are making a big commitment. “If I listen to the grassroots, the economy wants the bilaterals,” asserts Michel, “that is the core of our success.” It is more tactical that the economy and the FDP are still holding back.

Political observer Michael Hermann has doubts. The supporters lack the energy compared to the SVP and the unions. “The economy should actually be clear about it. But she is not prepared to make compromises with the unions,” states Hermann. “Apparently the price is considered too high.”

The crux of the matter is wage protection

Simon Michel, who is also a board member of the economic umbrella organization Economiesuisse, confirms that they are not prepared to meet the numerous additional demands of the unions. It’s all about maintaining today’s wage protection. “We will ensure that wage protection is guaranteed in the future,” says Michel.

The campaign by those in favor of further developing the bilateral path will gain momentum this summer, assures Simon Michel. “We clearly have to be louder,” he admits.

However, there is still some time left. The result of the negotiations between Switzerland and the EU will not reach the electorate until 2026 at the earliest.

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