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CIPRA's point of view: Alpine Convention: Italy says yes but Switzerland still says no

May 30, 2012
Italy, surprisingly, has ratified eight of nine protocols of the Alpine Convention. Only Switzerland has yet to sign up. We do not need the protocols, stated the Swiss Federal Council recently - Swiss policy is, in its view, more sustainable than in any other Alpine country.
Image caption:
More environmentally-friendly transport by rail, a central requirement of the transport protocol of the Alpine Convention. © lazytom/flickr.com
Up until now the community of Alpine states has contained two black sheep: Italy and Switzerland. For 20 years they have managed to sidestep ratification of the protocols to the Alpine Convention. Since 5 May, however, eight of the nine protocols have been implemented in Italy. The transport protocol, meanwhile, was set aside owing to successful lobbying by the haulage industry, which claims that a prohibition on building new motorways in the Alps would mean that repairs to existing roads might no longer be possible. A safety risk and, not least, an economic one. The transport protocol would also supposedly mean an enormous competitive disadvantage, as Italy is the only country that has to transport its goods over the mountains to reach the rest of Europe. The transport protocol would in fact have helped provide Italy with a political basis for shifting traffic from road to rail. It is currently pushing ahead with costly railway projects such as the Lyon-Turin link or the Brenner Basis Tunnel. There is neither the political will nor a clear strategy for actually getting goods onto the rail network.
Switzerland has just such a strategy: its transport policy sets the benchmark even at European level for goods traffic crossing the Alps. This, at any rate, was the position repeatedly stated by the Federal Council on 23 May in answer to a parliamentary question: Switzerland thus has no need to ratify the protocol. The question, then, is what is to prevent the exemplary Swiss from proving their credentials and implementing all of the protocols.

Source and further information:www.umwelt.bz.it/presse/alpenkonvention, www.alpconv.org/de/newsevents/press, www.parlament.ch/d/suche/seiten/geschaefte (de), http://trasportocommerciale.it/2012/03/26 (it), www.anita.it/news_dettaglio.asp?id=771 (it), www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2011/11/05 (it)