First, Swiss banks must quickly settle with the US. Ideally, the government will find a way to avoid drawing in parliament again, after it refused last week to vote on the government’s bill; and the banks can proceed in line with the framework set by the UBS settlement. After all, equal treatment in equal circumstances is a fundamental Swiss constitutional principle.
Second, the government and the banks must quickly recognise that client anonymity for tax purposes is a thing of the past. The specific contours of how information will be exchanged across sovereign borders will have to be worked out. Ideally, this will occur under the auspices of the OECD, a Paris-based think-tank, where Switzerland should demand a robust voice at the table.
Third, and crucially, Bern must settle the problem of undeclared legacy assets, largely of European origin, residing in its private banks. A significant share was deposited a long time ago in a different era with different norms. A pragmatic and morally defensible solution is for clients to pay a one-off tax on them to their respective countries of residence. In return, they would be allowed to preserve their anonymity. The level of tax could be broadly linked to the relevant rates in the European countries in question.
Finally, Bern must be steadfast in demanding access to the EU market for its banking services, enabling it to refocus the sector on its excellence in cross-border wealth management. This is equally in the interest of the EU: any other outcome will drive significant assets out of Switzerland and probably out of Europe.