Rotating Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga says her first meeting with the President of the European Commission was constructive.
Switzerland and the European Union are trying to hammer out an institutional framework agreement – a process that has been difficult and time-consuming. Sommaruga said she sensed an “interest in solutions” on both sides, with Brussels “showing the will to cooperate” in the run-up to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Sommaruga – who is also the Swiss environment, transport and energy minister – met Ursula von der Leyen, the new EU Commission President, on Monday afternoon on the sidelines of WEF. Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis and Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter also took part in the talks. The tough negotiations on an institutional framework agreement were at the heart of the discussion.
“We did not provoke each other,” said Sommaruga to the media afterwards. “There are differences; I don’t have to pretend with you.”
Sommaruga underlined the importance of bilateral relations between Switzerland and the 28-nation bloc, noting that the economic exchange between Switzerland and the EU amounted to over one billion Swiss francs a day.
At the meeting they also discussed transport, migration and climate policy.
“The conversation took place in a very good and open atmosphere,” Sommaruga said, mentioning that von der Leyen had listened attentively and taken notes.