BERN, 25-Oct-2016 — /EuropaWire/ — President of the Swiss Confederation Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, and Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard received Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende for working meetings on 24 October 2016. The talks focused on bilateral political and economic relations and European policy. Further topics were cooperation between Switzerland and Norway in international forums such as the UN and issues in connection with current international events. Foreign Minister Brende also made a courtesy visit to Christa Markwalder, President of the National Council.
During their meeting in Neuchâtel, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Didier Burkhalter and his guest praised the excellent relations between Switzerland and Norway. The two countries share a strong commitment in the areas of human rights, peace promotion, humanitarian policy and migration. They also work together to issue Schengen visas, with Switzerland representing Norway in Madagascar, and Norway representing Switzerland in Angola, Uganda and Malawi.
A major topic during this meeting was the two countries’ European policy, in particular their relations with the European Union (EU), cooperation within the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the consequences on Switzerland and Norway of the United Kingdom’s ‘Brexit’ vote. Didier Burkhalter also informed his guest about the ongoing parliamentary process to implement the new article on immigration in the Swiss Federal Constitution.
Against the backdrop of United Nations Day, both foreign ministers expressed their great satisfaction at their countries’ constructive collaboration in multilateral forums. Mr Burkhalter discussed with his counterpart possibilities to intensify multilateral cooperation in areas such as peace and security policy, human rights and development aid. They also spoke about current events including the situations in Ukraine and the Middle East, and the fight against terrorism.
The meeting in Bern between the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), President of the Swiss Confederation Johann N. Schneider-Ammann and Børge Brende focused on both countries’ efforts within the EFTA to reach new free trade agreements and on the development of the World Trade Organization (WTO). They also discussed the consequences on Switzerland and Norway, as non-EU members, of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the EU as well as the Implementation of the new constitutional provisions on immigration (article 121a).
Environmental and energy policy matters were the focus of the meeting with Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, the head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC). With regard to the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, both Switzerland and Norway are pursuing ambitious climate policies. Norway intends to increase the use of electric cars to reduce CO2 in transportation. The countries’ energy relations with the EU were also covered during the meeting, specifically in light of Brexit. Although as an EEA country Norway is integrated in the EU’s internal energy market, a number of questions remain unresolved. The discussion also touched on the role of hydroelectric energy in Europe.
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SOURCE: SWISS GOVERNMENT