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11 April 2018

Swiss Parliamentarians Thwart Risky Mobile Plans

Parliamentarians thwart risky mobile plans
by diagnose-funk.org, 5 April 2018

Demand for higher limits fails in the Council of States

Antenna radiation: The requirement of Swisscom and Co. for higher limit values ​​failed in the Council of States. Massive lobbying by the telecom corporations almost led the Council of States to ease the protection limits against mobile phone antenna radiation. But only almost - the pressure from the population worked.

The Council of States 2017/2018
The result was extremely close: with 22 votes to 21 and two abstentions, the Council of States said "no" on 5 March to the requirement to increase the radiation protection limits for mobile phone antennas. The advocates argued that this step was necessary "to prevent a collapse of mobile networks and ensure the further digitization." The intention behind the easing was to roll out the red carpet for the cell phone network operators for the most cost-effective introduction of the new mobile communications standard 5G.

Essential for the "no" of the Council of States was the fact that many people are "particularly sensitive to electromagnetic radiation," said State Councilor Brigitte Häberli-Koller (CVP / TG). "They suffer from physical stress and have serious health problems that need to be taken seriously."

And those concerned said, "We received hundreds of letters from people who are already suffering from this radiation," said Géraldine Savary (SP / VD). "We have to consider their situation."

Doctors are against higher limits

Whether mobile phones make one sick, is not scientifically clarified. According to the World Health Organization, the radiation may possibly be carcinogenic.  It is also suspected of being able to influence DNA, cerebral blood flow, brain waves and sperm quality ("Saldo" 4/2018). The medical group FMH, the patients' association and Doctors for Environmental Protection clearly spoke out against increasing the limit values ​​in mobile communications. Likewise, the farmers' association, feared negative effects on animal health.

The decision of the Council of States against higher limits is all the more surprising because there was intensive lobbying of the telecom companies Swisscom & Co. in the Federal Palace for a "yes" to ease the radiation limits. In addition, there was lobbying from business associations under the direction of the federation Economiesuisse. These companies and associations have an easy time spreading their messages in the Federal Palace because their representatives enter and leave - thanks to access cards.  Each member of Parliament is allowed to hand over access cards to two persons of his choice. The lucky ones include:

Andreas Hugi, Head of the agency for public affairs Furrerhugi. According to Lobbywatch.ch, this is active for Swisscom.
Stefan Kilchenmann, Head of Public Affairs at Swisscom.
Stefan Nünlist, Head of Swisscom Corporate Communications.
Michael Burkhardt, Head of Public Affairs at Sunrise.
Susanne Brunner, Cristina Gaggini, Gottlieb Keller and François Launaz from Economiesuisse.

Parliamentarians as lobbyists?

In addition, different members of parliament belong to the interest groups of the mobile telephony  industry or are at least very close to them. In the Council of States:  Konrad Graber (CVP / LU), Andrea Caroni (FDP / AR), Raphael Comte (FDP / NE), Ruedi Noser (FDP / ZH), Robert Cramer (Green / GE), Pascale Bruderer Wyss (SP / AG), Anita Fetz (SP / BS), Christian Levrat (SP / FR) and Liliane Maury Pasquier (SP / GE).

They participate in the parliamentary economic initiative ePower, in which 26 members of the National Council are also represented. The initiative aims to "make better use of the potential of information and communication technologies".

State Councilor Ruedi Noser sits in the four-person core team of ePower.  During the Council of States debate, he was one of the most vehement advocates of the limit value increase and prophesied gloom, should the request be rejected:  losses in tourism and industry, the failure of the climate targets of Paris, declining tax revenues, etc. but as mentioned,  it was of no use.  The Council said "no".

Even four of the nine Council members, who are part of the ePower group, rejected the request, including Anita Fetz. She pleaded with regard to 5G for decentralized networks with small antennas that emit less than upgraded large antennas. Fetz: "It's far more intelligent to invest in viable future technology than simply increasing the radiation limits for economic reasons."

22 Councilors said "no" to higher limits

Isidor Baumann, CVP / UR. Pirmin Bishop, CVP / SO. Jean-René Fournier, CVP / VS. Brigitte Häberli Koller, CVP / TG. Beat Rieder, CVP / VS. Anne Seydoux Christian, CVP / JU. Raphael Comte, FDP / NE. Joachim Eder, FDP / ZG. Thomas Hefti, FDP / GL. Daminan Müller, FDP / GL. Martin Schmid, FDP / GR. Robert Cramer, Green / GE. Didier Berberat, SP / NE. Anita Fetz, SP / BS. Claude Hêche, SP / JU. Liliane Maury Pasquier, SP / GE. Paul Rechsteiner, SP / SG. Geraldine Savary, SP / VD. Roberto Zanetti, SP / SO. Roland Eberle, SVP / TG. Peter Foehn, SVP / SZ. Thomas Minder, Partnos / SH.

21 Councilors said "yes" to higher limits

BDP: Werner Luginbühl (BE). CVP: Ivo Bischofberger (AI), Stefan Engler (GR), Erich Ettlin (OW), Konrad Graber (LU), Peter Hegglin (ZG), Filippo Lombardi (TI), Beat Vonlanthen (FR). FDP: Fabio Abate (TI), Andrea Caroni (AR), Josef Dittli (UR), Olivier Français (VD), Philipp Mueller (AG), Ruedi Noser (ZH), Hans Wicki (NW). SP: Pascale Bruderer Wyss (AG), Claude Janiak (BL), Christian Levrat (FR), Hans Stöckli (BE). SVP: Werner Hösli (GL), Alex Kuprecht (SZ).

Hannes Germann (SVP, SH) and Daniel Jositsch (SP, ZH) abstained.

Original article in German:

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