The delegations met at the Chiasso-Brogeda border crossing, where the two ministers greeted and thanked the Swiss and Italian border guards for their work during the crisis. The official meeting between the two delegations took place at the Museo Vincenzo Vela in Ligornetto and was preceded by a private discussion between the two ministers.
Mr Cassis underscored the fruitful cooperation that had taken place between the two states during the crisis and the frequent contact he and his Italian counterpart had had from the outset. This close contact had made it possible to ensure that frontier workers had been able to continue travelling to work, in particular those employed in the health sector, and to manage the passage of goods at borders effectively. It also helped to facilitate the repatriation operations that the two countries had organised jointly to assist Swiss and Italian citizens stranded abroad.
Mr Cassis also stressed the importance of the region straddling the border between Switzerland and Italy. "During this crisis," he said, "the great economic, social and cultural value of this region has been shown more clearly than ever before." Addressing the people of Ticino and Northern Italy, who were particularly affected by the virus, Mr Cassis expressed words of solidarity and encouragement.
Mr Cassis and Mr Di Maio then discussed the measures taken by the two governments to loosen restrictions and reopen borders within Europe, which entered into force on Monday 15 June. Restoring the free movement of persons, Cassis stressed, is a key element in the transition to a new normality. Collaboration between neighbouring countries and across the whole of Europe will remain important during this phase, particularly in the area of cross-border traffic. The two ministers stressed the need to continue to observe the precautionary measures set out by their respective authorities to combat infection.
After his visit to the border between Italy and Switzerland, Mr Cassis will travel on 17 June to the region on the border with Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein, and on 26 June to Geneva, on the border between Switzerland and France.
Bilateral matters, European policy and international issues
The two delegations also addressed various issues of bilateral interest, notably the draft memorandum to strengthen cooperation between their respective ministries, the agreement regarding the taxation of frontier workers and the situation in the commune of Campione d'Italia.
Switzerland and Italy not only share a common border of 740 kilometres but have developed over the centuries a tightly-knit relationship, based on deep-rooted human, cultural, scientific and economic ties. Frontier workers are an important resource for the economy of Ticino and for Switzerland in general, as well as for the neighbouring Italian provinces. Italy is Switzerland's third biggest trading partner after Germany and the United States: the total volume of trade with the neighbouring Italian regions alone exceeds that of trade with Japan or India.
Mr Cassis also briefed Mr Di Maio on current progress on the European dossier and reiterated that cooperation between Switzerland and the EU and its member states had been crucial in tackling the coronavirus crisis. The pragmatism that emerged in the joint management of the pandemic will prove useful in future discussions between Switzerland and the EU.
Lastly, the ministers reviewed a number of current international issues, focusing in particular on migration and the situation in Libya.
Address for enquiries:
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53