FlesihmanHillard had the honour of receiving yesterday the Ambassador of Switzerland to the European Union for a roundtable on the future of the relations between the European Union and Switzerland.
In February, Switzerland voted in favour of a popular initiative restricting immigration for all foreigners, including those coming from the European Union. This raises doubts as to the compatibility of these new dispositions with the principle of free movement of people, which Switzerland shares with Europe as a member of its Schengen zone. The reaction from the European Union has been firm, and it was the right moment for us to ask an important question: what is the future of the EU-Swiss relations? Ambassador Balzaretti shared his views and unique insights with us, during a lively and fruitful discussion. Caroline Wunnerlich, Managing Director of FleishmanHillard in Brussels, moderated the roundtable.
2014, Year of change
With a new team of Commissioners and a new Parliament, the European Union will have the opportunity to engage in renewed dialogue with its neighbours and partners. But within these changes, there will be continuity, and Switzerland remains a very close partner of Europe: Switzerland is the third largest economic partner of the European Union. Europe and Switzerland are linked by bilateral agreements ranging from research, innovation, education, trade or agriculture; a number of new agreements are currently under discussion, covering issues as varied as the ETS, Galileo or electricity. The European Union and Switzerland have always enjoyed close economic and political ties, and the success of this event shows the strong interest of a wide range of stakeholders in the future of this relation. Although the debates were held under Chatham House rule, Ambassador Balzaretti kindly agreed to let us use here one of his sentences which, in our opinion, symbolizes this event: “We share the values of the European Union”.
A great success for the Black box!
The FH Black Box also made a great impression. Its six screens displayed data and visuals on the Swiss popular vote and on the reactions it triggered in the news and on social networks. The attendees showed a great interest in the wealth of information provided by the Black Box.
This roundtable was a success and the attendees had the opportunity to have an open and enriching discussion with the Ambassador. FleishmanHillard is proud to have organised this event, and the whole team is already looking forward to the next roundtable.