At their meeting in Stuttgart, Ignazio Cassis informed Winfred Kretschmann about Switzerland's proposed negotiating package approach and on progress in the exploratory talks between Switzerland and the EU. Switzerland's association in future EU programmes, particularly in the field of research and innovation, is key to maintaining the region's economic vigour. Mr Cassis and Mr Kretschmann also expressed their desire to strengthen the quality and impact of cross-border cooperation between Switzerland and Baden-Württemberg through recently established platforms for regional dialogue.
A key partnership in the heart of Europe
Baden-Württemberg is Switzerland's third most important trading partner worldwide after the United States and China. The representatives of Baden-Württemberg are strongly committed to maintaining and intensifying existing ties with Switzerland. Mr Cassis and Mr Kretschmann noted that the bilateral agreements between Bern and Brussels are a vital foundation for successful regional partnerships in the fields of research, education and innovation in particular. Cross-border supply chains, which are among the most integrated in Europe, also rely to a large extent on well-regulated relations between Bern and Brussels.
"We must do everything in our power to get relations between Switzerland and the EU back on track. I believe that political will is needed on both sides to solve the unresolved institutional questions between the EU and Switzerland. The two must talk to each other seriously and in a spirit of compromise," said Minister-President Kretschmann.
The President of the Confederation informed Mr Kretschmann of the Federal Council's intention to step up the exploratory talks with the European Commission. Swiss association in future EU programmes, particularly in the field of research and innovation, remains the stated objective of the Federal Council," said Mr Cassis.
Strengthening bilateral and cross-border relations
The Swiss President also stressed the great importance of cross-border cooperation for all border regions between Switzerland and Baden-Württemberg. The Lake Constance region, for example, facilitates cooperation between four German-speaking countries (Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein) in important matters such as mobility, climate change and innovation. A pilot meeting of the Lake Constance intergovernmental commission took place in St Gallen in May 2022 under the leadership of the foreign ministries and with the involvement of all border regions. "I got the feeling that all parties were interested in continuing this dialogue at the heart of an especially dynamic region," said Mr Cassis.
Switzerland is also seeking to better integrate matters of cross-border interest at country level. An annual German-Swiss dialogue on cross-border cooperation which includes all of the local actors alongside the Swiss and German foreign ministries will provide a conduit to raise regional issues at federal level on both sides of the border. "The establishment of a dialogue on cross-border cooperation with Germany is excellent news," added Cassis. "This new platform will enable a complete overview of cross-border matters affecting Switzerland and Germany, and so create impetus at political level". Switzerland already engages in established dialogues to this end with Italy and France.
Situation in Ukraine also discussed
President Cassis said he was very concerned about the situation in Ukraine since a ceasefire in the immediate future is unlikely and diplomatic negotiations have stalled. He mentioned the Ukraine Recovery Conference, which will take place in Lugano on 4 and 5 July, and spoke of the close relations between Ukraine and Switzerland. "Through this conference, Switzerland is positioning itself on its favoured terrain by offering a discussion platform to all actors willing to contribute to Ukraine's recovery," he said.
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