The German president will be welcomed to Bern with military honours by the full Federal Council in the afternoon after which official talks will take place in the Bernerhof. On the Swiss side the talks will be attended by President Berset, the vice president of the Federal council, Ueli Maurer, and federal councillors Simonetta Sommaruga, Johann N. Schneider-Ammann and Ignazio Cassis. Topics on the agenda are expected to include bilateral relations, cooperation between the two countries in an international context and European policy.
A traditional gala dinner will be held on the evening of the first day. The programme on the second day of the visit will be dedicated to democracy and sustainability. At the University of Fribourg, President Berset and President Steinmeier will take part in a podium discussion on the challenges and prospects for democracy in the 21st century.
Afterwards, together with Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, the head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), the two presidents will visit the ‘NeighborHub' solar-powered house project at Fribourg's blueFACTORY innovation district. The solar-powered house was designed by a team drawn from 4 Swiss higher education institutions and won the Solar Decathlon engineering prize in the USA last year. In the afternoon, Mr Berset will accompany Mr Steinmeier to Zurich where he will take leave of his guest.
The close ties between Switzerland and Germany are based on a comprehensive network of some 200 agreements. The two economies are closely interconnected. Germany is Switzerland's most important trade partner, both in terms of imports and exports. In 2015 German companies employed around 121,000 people in Switzerland, more than any other country. Swiss companies employ around 425,000 people in Germany (second place behind the Netherlands); in 2016 there were around 62,000 cross-border workers from Germany.
Both Germany and Switzerland enjoy strong mutual appeal: at the end of 2017 around 300,000 German nationals were living in Switzerland. The number of Swiss nationals living in Germany has also increased in recent years; at the end of 2017 the figure was around 88,000 (2012: 81,000).
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