although this post probably only seems very tangentially related to Economics, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reports here on urgent action taken by the Swiss Government to avert a potential crisis during the upcoming Euro 2008 tournament. Apparently there was the real risk that because of Swiss import restrictions on potatoes, and already high local potato demand, a critical shortage of hot chips at the football matches during the tournament could have occurred.
Now although it is encouraging to see that the Swiss Government has got their priorities right and are tackling the big important issues first (after all, a football match isn't a football match without hot chips and extra servings of mayonnaise and tomato sauce), this raises for me the wider issue of the harmful effects of Swiss agricultural protectionism in general. For example, the ridiculously high prices of meat here (compared with Australia) have been enough to almost turn me into a vegetarian, and even drove me to the lengths of illegally importing Kangaroo meat into Switzerland from France in order to get my red meat fix.
So if it takes a potential crisis at a football tournament to get the Government to rethink an import ban on potatoes, what will it take for a rethink on the issue of Swiss protectionism in general?
Would be interested in your thoughts and especially in some Swiss perspectives on the protectionism issue.