Long before the arrival of the Romans, Celtic and Rhetian tribes that inhabited present-day Switzerland traded with Greece, Italy and regions far beyond. They even used the Greek language in political and trade deals. The territory romanized as part of the Roman Empire from the first century AD onwards and the first mountain passes opened: the Great and Little St. Bernard passes, connecting the north and the south, the west and the east of the Roman Empire. It was not until the thirteenth century that people could cross the St. Gotthard pass. The Gotthard route offered an ideal combination of waterways (the lake Lucerne and the Rhine Aare and Reuss rivers). This led to an enormous increase in trade, business, travel, cultural and intellectual exchange. The technical achievements of the nineteenth century made the seemingly impossible possible: In 1882 the Gotthard rail tunnel was ready. In 1980 came the road tunnel and in 2016 the Gotthard Base Tunnel.
Switzerland has set up three world records in tunnel construction, connecting all of Europe. Festivities for the inauguration of the Gotthard base tunnel are planned from June 1-5, 2016. The Swiss government has invited 1,200 people, including Swiss, EU and foreign parliamentarians, ministers, heads of state and representatives of international organisations. Everyone, including Americans, are delighted at the sheer scale of the project, to bore a base level tunnel 57 km through the Alps, paid for by Switzerland without any EU-funding. The admiration and interest outside Switzerland is great, and rightly so.
Happiness all over Europe ) ? No, not all over Europe, because the EU apparently dislikes the success of this project by a small sovereign nation without any EU-funding and the EU dislikes Switzerland because of its accomplishments and refusal to give up its way of (democratic) life. The ‘presidents’ of the EU will not be present due to ‘a lack of time’. The absence of these ‘Great Europeans’ show their contempt for the accomplishments of individuals (engineers), private enterprise and independent sovereign nations that deliver on time, without EU-funding and, evidently, after a referendum has taken place.