The President of the Confederation Micheline Calmy-Rey in talks with the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy

Bern, Press release, 10.11.2011

The President of the Swiss Confederation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), met the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, for talks in Zurich on 9 November 2011. The topics of the discussion included the Swiss-EU relations, the debt crisis in the eurozone, co-operation on tax issues, and selected international issues.

The discussion focused on the debt crisis. Mrs Calmy-Rey emphasised that as a close economic partner of the EU and a major financial centre in Europe, Switzerland is also affected by the crisis in the eurozone. “For this reason we are following the developments in the EU very closely and we welcome the measures taken so far to bring the debt problem and its consequences under control,” she said. The President of the Confederation pointed out that Switzerland was participating in the financing of the rescue measures for the indebted European countries via the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In the field of fiscal cooperation Mrs Calmy-Rey informed her interlocutor about bilateral solutions such as the agreements on final withholding tax with Germany and the United Kingdom, whose scope of coverage goes beyond that of the agreement with the EU on the taxation of income on savings. “Switzerland is a co-operative partner,” she said, “and with these agreements on taxation, it has created efficient instruments for cross-border co-operation that take into consideration both the justified claims for taxation of states and the claim for protection of the private sphere.”

A further item of discussion with Mr Van Rompuy was Switzerland’s successful mediation between Georgia and Russia in the matter of customs administration and the supervision of commercial goods. The agreement reached in Geneva today between the two states paves the way for Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization in the near future. 

Finally, the topic of the way ahead for the “bilateral way” was also discussed. Mrs Calmy-Rey spoke in favour of further deepening the comprehensive and co-ordinated approach Switzerland has adopted in its dealings with the EU in concrete form: “This approach will ensure that satisfactory solutions can be found for both sides in the various files under negotiation.” 

The meeting today took place ahead of an important event of the Europa Institute at the University of Zurich (EIZ). In the framework of the so-called Churchill Lectures, the President of the Confederation spoke at the EIZ in the evening about the financial and economic challenges Switzerland is currently facing. In her address, Mrs Calmy-Rey stressed the importance of regulation, supervision and transparency for the financial markets as well as the need for international co-ordination on regulatory matters. Her address was followed by a keynote speech by the President of the European Council, Mr Van Rompuy.


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