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EU tops agenda in Couchepin’s Portugal visit

EU ties dominated talks between Pascal Couchepin (left) and the Portuguese prime minister José Manuel Durão Barroso swissinfo.ch

The Swiss president, Pascal Couchepin, has discussed European integration at talks in Lisbon with his Portuguese counterpart, Jorge Sampaio.

This content was published on September 2, 2003 - 19:05

Sampaio told Couchepin he could count on Portugal’s support during the second round of negotiations on bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU.

Switzerland hopes to clinch a second set of bilateral deals with the EU by the end of next year.

Relations between Switzerland and Portugal are said to be good. Bern came to the assistance of the southern country when fires raged through its forests this summer, handing over SFr1 million ($714,000) in emergency aid.

Couchepin said this was a gesture of recognition towards the substantial Portuguese community in Switzerland, believed to be its third largest immigrant group.

Prompted by Sampaio, the Swiss president promised to look into claims that not enough was done in Switzerland to give Portuguese young people access to Swiss universities.

The two countries are important trading partners. Switzerland is the eighth largest investor in Portugal. Last year, Bern exported SFr808 million worth of goods and imported SFr468 million.

America’s cup

Lisbon also took the opportunity of the two-day visit to promote Portugal as a location for the America’s Cup in 2007.

As a landlocked country Switzerland, this year’s cup winner, is on the lookout for suitable venues for the sailing competition.

To this end, the Swiss delegation were taken to visit the coastal town of Caiscais, although Couchepin stressed he had no influence over the final decision.

That would lie in the hands of Ernesto Bertarelli, the chief of the Alinghi team which won this year’s race, he said.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Portugal said it would support Bern in the second round of negotiations on bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU

Switzerland gave Portugal SFr1 million ($714,000) in emergency aid this summer when the southern country suffered from widespread forest fires.

Switzerland is the eighth largest investor in Portugal – last year, the former exported SFr808 million worth of goods and imported SFr468 million.

Portugal also wanted to promote itself as a possible location for the next America’s Cup.

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