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Parliament wants clarity on national exhibition by 2026

Updated at 13 Mar 2024 9:21 am

Parliament wants the Federal Council to clarify the project selection for the next national exhibition by summer 2026. By the end of the same year, it should also decide whether and how the federal government will co-finance a national exhibition.

After the Council of States, the National Council also adopted a corresponding motion by the Council of States' Committee for Science, Education and Culture (WBK-S) on Wednesday. It approved the motion by 112 votes to 54 with 20 abstentions. All but three of the no votes came from the SVP parliamentary group.

Although the SVP was not fundamentally opposed to a national exhibition, it pointed to the federal government's tight financial situation.

For the same reason, the Federal Council also wanted to postpone the decision and decide in 2028 at the earliest whether the Confederation would be prepared to contribute to a national exhibition. It announced this in March 2023, which triggered the committee motion.

"Zu ambitiös"

Only then would it make sense to choose between the various projects, said Economics Minister Guy Parmelin. The timetable demanded by the motion was too ambitious. In any case, the question would only arise if the existing initiatives were unable to agree on a joint project.

The proponents argued that national exhibitions contribute to the cohesion of Switzerland and bring high economic added value.

The various project initiatives need planning security, said Simon Stadler (center/UR) on behalf of the National Council's preliminary consultation committee. He spoke of a unique opportunity to "bring together town and country, old and young, east and west, north and south".

Andreas Gafner (EDU/BE) argued in vain that the Expo in 2002 had ultimately cost the federal government around one billion francs. It was unclear where the money was to come from.

The state government must now set about implementing the motion.

Talks about merger

There are currently four project initiatives for the next national exhibition: Muntagna, Nexpo, Svizra27 and X27. According to their own statements, they are currently discussing a possible merger. The next national exhibition could take place from 2030.

In a joint communiqué on Wednesday, the project initiators welcomed the parliament's decision. A delay until 2028 could have meant the end of the projects, they wrote. "The expertise remains intact, the investments are protected and the work can continue as planned," Zurich Mayor Corine Mauch, President of Nexpo, was quoted as saying in the press release.

©Keystone/SDA

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