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Berlin talks bring progress in thorny dossiers

Top-level German-Swiss discussions in Berlin on Wednesday brought “great progress” in the two divisive issues of tax and aircraft noise, both sides agreed.

This content was published on April 28, 2010 - 17:53

The Swiss president, Doris Leuthard, told journalists that her discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been relaxed, and “taken the heat” out of the debate.

But the two women agreed that a number of issues still had to be resolved.

A joint working group is to draw up proposals to solve the tax contention between the two countries and present them by the autumn, Merkel said. Germany is unhappy at the way in which wealthy citizens have been able to use the Swiss banking system to avoid paying tax at home.

The group will also look at the issue of money that came into Switzerland from East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Before the meeting, Leuthard had told a German radio station that Switzerland was not to blame for the delay in reaching a dual taxation agreement between the two countries. She also warned that Switzerland was still considering whether to take legal action against German states which had bought CDs containing stolen data about possible tax evaders.

The second major problem the two leaders discussed is the ongoing debate over noise from aircraft using German airspace on their approach to Zurich airport.

Leuthard described this as a “difficult” question, but said it was in both countries’ interest to find a speedy solution.

Experts from both countries met to discuss the matter in Zurich on Wednesday.
Merkel said Switzerland had made a proposal which could resolve the conflict.

The Swiss Civil Aviation Office has given no details. But a spokesman told the Swiss news agency that more discussions are planned before the summer holidays.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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