Just under a year ago, the head of the FDFA, Ignazio Cassis, welcomed the cantonal councils of Graubünden and Ticino to Bern for a trilateral meeting, as part of the regular political dialogue established since his election to the Federal Council with the two cantons of Italian and Romansh-speaking Switzerland, along with representatives of Italian-speaking Switzerland in the Council of States and the National Council. In keeping with this tradition, he visited the Ticino cantonal government in Bellinzona today. A similar meeting is also planned with the Graubünden cantonal government in the near future. On the agenda were topical issues and themes of common interest, such as cross-border relations and the promotion of Italian language and culture in Switzerland and abroad.
Mr Cassis took stock of the work done in these areas during the legislative period that is now drawing to a close. He reiterated the FDFA's commitment to ensuring fair representation of the different language communities in the Federal Administration and in federal government-associated businesses. He went on to mention the Piccolo Erasmus project, which from 2021 allows temporary exchanges of employees between the cantonal administrations of Ticino and Graubünden and the FDFA. Initiatives such as Italian Language Week and Romansh Language Week also help to raise awareness of Switzerland's linguistic diversity and to highlight the nation's capacity for dialogue and the peaceful coexistence of different cultures, both at home and abroad.
Ticino as an international stage
Numerous diplomatic meetings held in recent years in the canton of Ticino have raised the profile of the region south of the Alps internationally. Major events include the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano in 2022, but also the annual meeting of the president of the Swiss Confederation with the foreign diplomatic corps in Melide that same year. The summit of German-speaking ministers in Lugano, the visit of the Latvian president, also in Lugano, and that of the Estonian prime minister in Bellinzona, as well as further meetings with foreign ministers in various locations, such as Collina d'Oro, Gandria, Ascona, Chiasso, Ligornetto and Mendrisio, are also worth mentioning. Mr Cassis's presidential year also saw the Federal Council travel to Mendrisio for its annual excursion, as well as to Val Müstair – at the crossroads of Romansh, German-speaking and Italian-speaking cultures – for its meeting "extra muros", outside the Federal Palace.
Positive developments in cross-border relations
The last few months have also been characterised by important developments in relations with Italy, starting with the agreement reached in April between the two countries to remove Switzerland from the blacklist for the taxation of natural persons. The positive momentum established between Switzerland and Italy in recent years culminated in a state visit to Switzerland by the Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, in November 2022, and was also highlighted by Mr Cassis during his visit to Rome in the spring of this year. During the current legislative period, diplomatic contacts have been stepped up and some ten agreements concluded in various fields. These include the ratification by the parliaments of both countries of the agreement on the taxation of frontier workers, which entered into force this summer. The new provisions will be applicable from 1 January 2024.
During the political dialogue, topical issues were addressed, such as mobility on the north-south axis following the closures of the Gotthard Base Tunnel and motorway tunnel, and the issue of migration, in particular the situation at the federal asylum centre in Chiasso. Mr Cassis expressed his understanding for the concerns of the cantonal government and the people of Ticino, and assured them that the relevant federal authorities are in contact with the cantonal authorities and are following the dossier closely. Mr Cassis also briefed the Ticino government on the status of exploratory talks with the EU. The meeting was also attended by the new Swiss consul general in Milan, Stefano Lazzarotto.
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