WEF Annual Meeting: Switzerland and Germany in talks on economic and energy matters

Bern, 22.05.2022 - On 22 May, Federal Councillors Simonetta Sommaruga and Guy Parmelin met with German Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Robert Habeck in Davos ahead of the WEF Annual Meeting. They discussed the impact of the war in Ukraine on energy supply. Both countries are working to rapidly reduce their dependence on Russian gas and to advance decarbonisation. In order to better manage any shortages, they have agreed to start negotiations on a solidarity agreement for mutual support.

Federal Councillor Sommaruga, head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), and Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) met with Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck in Davos ahead of the start of the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The talks were dominated by the war in Ukraine and its impact on Europe.

Ms Sommaruga spoke with Mr Habeck about the measures taken by the two countries to reduce dependency on Russian gas and create the necessary reserves. In order to be better prepared for possible shortages, various EU countries have begun to consider and conclude mutual assistance agreements among themselves. A corresponding agreement is also in the interests of Switzerland and Germany. Switzerland and Germany have therefore agreed today in Davos to quickly start negotiations for a solidarity agreement.

Measures to strengthen the electricity supply were also discussed. Due to the sharp rise in prices and electricity companies’ increased need for liquidity, the Federal Council has drawn up a rescue package. The German government also created a protective shield at the beginning of April. A secure electricity supply is vital for the population and the economy. Grid stability is critical in that respect as is close cooperation between neighbouring countries within Europe. Ms Sommaruga stressed that Switzerland can play an important role regarding grid stability in Europe and should therefore be included in the work.

On the part of the EAER, discussions focused on bilateral economic relations and Switzerland's relations with the EU. Mr Parmelin emphasised that Germany is Switzerland's most important economic partner and that the partnership with the EU is beneficial for both sides. Switzerland's decision to adopt the EU's sanctions in connection with the war in Ukraine is the latest example of how Switzerland sees itself as part of a community of values with the EU. Mr Parmelin explained the Federal Council's desire to continue on the bilateral path with the EU - now with a broad package approach.

Germany is by far Switzerland's most important trading partner. Last year, Switzerland exported goods worth CHF 51 billion, while imports amounted to CHF 57 billion. Germany and Switzerland are also mutually important as investors. Swiss direct investment in Germany amounted to CHF 70 billion at the end of 2020, while German companies invested over CHF 38 billion in Switzerland.

Prior to the talks with Minister Habeck in Davos, Ms Sommaruga also met with Arifin Tasrif, the Indonesian Energy Minister, and with Xie Zhenhua, the Chinese Special Envoy for Climate.

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Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research