President Schneider-Ammann visits CeBIT with Chancellor Merkel

Press releases, 15.03.2016

President Johann N. Schneider-Ammann met with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hannover on Tuesday for the opening of CeBIT, the world’s largest convention for the digital economy, where Switzerland is this year’s Partner Country. Before conducting the time-honoured tour of the convention, the president and the chancellor held talks on bilateral relations, Switzerland’s relationship with the European Union (EU) and European migration policy.

President Schneider-Ammann praised CeBIT as a platform to counter the widespread pessimism in Europe: “Here we can see just what can be achieved when researchers and businesses tackle the future head on.” The president cited Switzerland’s presence at CeBIT as a huge opportunity to present the outstanding, innovative achievements of the Swiss ICT sector to an international audience and to further deepen cooperation between Switzerland and Germany.

President Schneider-Ammann explained that for Switzerland, the country’s relationship with the EU is one of this year’s priority issues. He stressed that the Federal Council was striving for a mutually acceptable solution with the EU, which would enable the implementation of the constitutional provisions on immigration within the framework of the existing Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP).

President Schneider-Ammann also stressed how it important it is for Switzerland to be able to participate in the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation – a “Champions League project of the EU” – as a fully associated state. On 4 March, the Federal Council adopted its report on the dispatch to extend the AFMP to Croatia, thereby opening the door for Switzerland’s full association to Horizon 2020 from the beginning of 2017.

During the tour of the convention on Tuesday, Swiss businesses and research institutions in particular had the opportunity to showcase their innovations. The tour with Chancellor Merkel began with the Swiss Pavilion, the centrepiece of Switzerland’s presence as Partner Country covering 1,500 square metres, in which around 60 exhibitors are presenting themselves to an international audience.

Meetings with members of the German government
On Monday, President Schneider-Ammann opened CeBIT with Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel. During his stay in Hannover, the president and head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) also met with Johanna Wanka, the education and research minister, and interior minister Thomas de Maizière.

Topics discussed during the talks with Vice Chancellor Gabriel included the digitalisation of the economy and society, and Switzerland’s relations with the EU. Various aspects of migration were also considered during the talks with both Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière.

At the meeting between the president and research and education minister, Johanna Wanka, both parties recognised the excellent bilateral relations between Switzerland and Germany in education, research and innovation (ERI); they also discussed further avenues of cooperation for universities and in vocational education and training. An important topic at the meeting was multilateral cooperation in the field of ERI.

The theme of CeBIT 2016 is ‘d!conomy: join – create – succeed’; 3,300 exhibitors and 220,000 visitors from around 100 countries are expected to attend the event. It is the first time that Switzerland has been a CeBIT partner country. Switzerland’s presence as Partner Country is being organised by ICTswitzerland, which functions as an umbrella organisation for associations and companies providing or using Information and Communications Technologies, and by various federal offices. In Switzerland, the ICT sector employs approximately 200,000 people and in 2013 accounted for 4.4 per cent of GDP.

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