President Sommaruga takes part in video conference on Portugal’s upcoming EU presidency

Bern, 17.11.2020 - President Simonetta Sommaruga took part in separate hour-long video conferences with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister António Costa. Portugal assumes the presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 January 2021. The talks held yesterday and today focused on European policy, overcoming the coronavirus pandemic, climate and environmental issues, bilateral relations and railway investment.

President Sommaruga informed her discussion partners about the state of the dossier on Europe. Last week the Federal Council decided on its position regarding the institutional agreement and took up contact with the EU. President Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister Costa set out Portugal’s plans for its EU presidency in the first half of 2021.

With regard to the coronavirus crisis, Portugal and Switzerland agree that close consultation and coordination is extremely valuable. Switzerland’s inclusion in the European crisis management mechanisms has proved its worth, said President Sommaruga.
A further topic was work towards a climate-friendly recovery after the pandemic (‘Green Recovery’). President Sommaruga and her discussion partners informed each other about the climate policies of their respective countries. They also exchanged views on how Switzerland and Portugal, as like-minded states, can best achieve their environmental policy goals at international level.

The two sides commended their longstanding and close relations. There are currently around 260,000 Portuguese nationals living in Switzerland, making up the third-largest group of foreign nationals in the country, while some 4,500 Swiss nationals live in Portugal. Investment in renewable energies is playing an increasing role in economic relations between the two countries.

The video conferences on Monday and Tuesday, 16 and 17 November, took place instead of the Ms Sommaruga’s planned visit to Lisbon, which had to be cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus situation.

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