Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, who heads the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni met for a bilateral working lunch to discuss bilateral topics, Switzerland's policy on Europe, the latest developments in European migration policy and various matters related to European security.
With respect to bilateral cooperation, Mr Burkhalter highlighted the positive developments in the revision of the bilateral police agreement and expressed Switzerland's desire to move forward swiftly to sign the bilateral agreement on the taxation of cross-border commuters. In light of the migration crisis and the situation in the Mediterranean region, the two foreign ministers also expressed their intention to step up cooperation on migration-related matters. The two ministers stressed the need to apply existing rules and to continue to work towards a pan-European solution.
The two ministers also highlighted the importance of a joint approach to tackling issues related to European security. In this context, Mr Burkhalter assured Mr Gentiloni of Switzerland's support for Italy's chairmanship of the OSCE in 2018. They also discussed possible joint approaches to fighting terrorism and preventing radicalisation. Mr Gentiloni also stated that Italy supports Switzerland's efforts to find a mutually agreed solution with the EU concerning the implementation of the new constitutional article on immigration.
The last bilateral meeting between Federal Councillor Burkhalter and Foreign Minister Gentiloni took place on 21 March 2016 in Neuchâtel.
Switzerland and Italy have very close and diverse ties. The volume of trade between the two countries was around CHF 34 billion in 2015. Italy is Switzerland's third-largest trading partner. For its part, Switzerland is Italy's fifth-largest export market. Around 310,000 Italian citizens live in Switzerland, making them the largest group of resident foreign nationals. In addition, about 70,000 cross-border commuters from Italy come to work in Switzerland every day. Approximately 50,000 Swiss citizens live in Italy.
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