Renewal of the bilateral approach
Bern, 20.03.2012 - President Widmer-Schlumpf and Federal Councillor Burkhalter have met the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, within the scope of a working visit in Brussels. The discussions focused on current developments in bilateral relations, which both sides described as close and intensive.
Today, there are approximately 120 bilateral agreements in force between Switzerland and the EU. Several dossiers are currently being negotiated. Accordingly, bilateral relations were described as close, intensive and multifaceted in the talks held by President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter with top EU representatives. "The bilateral approach enjoys the support of the Swiss population and has also proven to be beneficial to the EU", President Widmer-Schlumpf said during her visit to Brussels. Both Switzerland and the EU underlined the progress that has been achieved recently in several bilateral dossiers. For example, the cooperation agreement between Switzerland and the European Defence Agency was signed on 16 March 2012. In addition, negotiations have been pursued on cooperation between the competition authorities, on linking trading systems for CO2 emission rights and on cooperation in the area of civil satellite navigation.
Renewal of the bilateral approach
The talks held by President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter with the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, also focused on possible steps that Switzerland and the EU can take together while continuing the bilateral approach. Federal Councillor Burkhalter stressed that it is important for "parallel progress to be secured in all areas" with a view to reconciling interests. Both sides agreed to press ahead with current dossiers within the scope of a coordinated and holistic approach and in this context to develop solutions for institutional issues. The further course of action at the political and technical levels is to be coordinated.
Moreover, the topic of taxation was discussed by President Widmer-Schlumpf, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the EU Commissioner for Taxation, Algirdas Šemeta. Switzerland and the EU agreed to intensify cooperation relating to tax issues and to establish a formal dialogue in the area of company taxation. Switzerland declared that it was prepared to examine the possibility of a framework agreement between itself and the EU on a withholding tax system. The President of the Swiss Confederation has extended an invitation to EU experts for talks in Switzerland. President Widmer-Schlumpf also took this opportunity to reiterate Switzerland's readiness to clarify the question of amending the bilateral agreement on the taxation of savings income.
Foreign policy issues
Further topics that were discussed during today's working visit concerned not only the euro crisis, but also financial market regulation. President Widmer-Schlumpf emphasised that effective and efficient financial market regulation is a key element in order for a sound and stable financial system to function properly and that the regulatory measures passed and planned by Switzerland to strengthen financial stability and protect investors are based on international standards.In the talks with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, President Widmer-Schlumpf and Federal Councillor Burkhalter discussed current foreign policy issues, including the situation in the Middle East.
Address for enquiries
Mario Tuor, Communications, State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF), +41 79 547 63 81
Jean-Marc Crevoisier, Communications, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), +41 79 763 84 10
Daniel Klingele, Spokesman, Swiss Mission to the European Union, Brussels, +32 2 286 13 29