Switzerland’s largest city declares “Tisa-Free Zone”

Original Publication Date: 
6 November, 2015

The city of Zurich has voted to declare itself a TISA-free zone, in a move which emphasizes a growing resistance to the secret trade talks. A proposal introduced to the Zurich Communal Council by the Green Party was passed by a firm majority and could help to establish a precedent for other regions across Europe who may hope to do the same.    

Zurich joins a growing number of Swiss cities, including Lausanne and Geneva, to declare themselves TISA-free.

Stephen Giger, general secretary of the Swiss Public Services Union (SSP-VPOD) said the movement against TISA is growing across Europe, explaining that “I believe people are more worried about the content of the TISA and the threat to public services than by the way it is being negotiated – the Swiss population cares about its public sector and this is what is mobilising people.”

The Trade In Services Agreement, which is discussed and agreed upon in secret, is opposed by PSI and a strong coalition of civil society organisations because of the negative impact it will have on universal access to public services. Corporations are pushing for deregulation and privatisation to be prioritised in the agreement, which will place corporate profit ahead of the general interest by restricting governments’ ability to regulate public services.

PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli said, “If these trade agreements were truly democratic then all of Europe would be a TISA-free zone because people do not want corporations profiting from the public services they rely on to make their lives better.”

The Zurich vote comes on a wave of growing momentum against secret trade agreements. Recent protests in multiple European cities saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets to voice their opposition to the ongoing TTIP, TISA and CETA talks. Politicians in Basel and Bern, the Swiss capital, are also planning on introducing proposals to declare TISA-Free Zones. These measures will call into question Switzerland’s continued involvement in the talks and provide a clear example of how democratic action can challenge undemocratic trade negotiations. Uruguay recently left the TISA talks after similar sustained opposition from public service unions and civil society.+