At the meeting, the fourth this year, Chancellor Merkel and President Schneider-Ammann emphasised the outstanding bilateral relations between Switzerland and Germany.
In terms of relations between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) the president outlined the ongoing parliamentary process to revise the Foreign Nationals Act and implement Article 121a of the Constitution on immigration. The president stressed that it was the Federal Council’s aim to be able to better control immigration and at the same time consolidate and continue to develop the bilateral path. The question of an institutional framework agreement was also raised. The chancellor stated that such an arrangement would be needed in the medium term.
Discussions also touched on other political issues affecting Germany and the EU, but also Switzerland, such as the situation following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Chancellor Merkel stressed that reaching a solution with Switzerland and settling the relationship between the EU and the UK were two independent processes.
On the subject of migration to Europe, both sides stressed that cooperation between Switzerland and Germany worked extremely well. There is a need for a united Europe-wide solution and an improved system for dispersing refugees within Europe. The matter of Zurich airport was also raised during the meeting. The Swiss delegation emphasised that there was an urgent need for the German implementing order to be amended.
Meeting with President Joachim Gauck and Education Minister Johanna Wanka
Digitalisation and the situation in Europe were among the topics discussed during the meeting with President Joachim Gauck. The main subject of discussion with Johanna Wanka, the German minister for education and research, was research cooperation between the two countries. Germany is one of Switzerland’s most important research partners.
The two countries maintain successful and varied collaboration in fields such as information and communications technologies, health sciences and nanotechnology. Germany and Switzerland also work closely together in a number of international research organisations such as the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the X-Ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL).
The main theme during the discussion with the education minister, Johanna Wanka, was the importance for Europe’s competitiveness of Horizon 2020, the EU’s framework programme for research and innovation. It is in the interests of both partners for Switzerland to regain full association membership from 2017. The talks also covered current developments in the fields of vocational education and training, cutting-edge research and digitalisation.
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