President Didier Burkhalter welcomed German President Joachim Gauck to Bern for official talks. Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, also took part in the talks.

The main focus of this exchange was the relationship between Switzerland and Germany and the implementation of the popular initiative against mass immigration which was adopted in a vote on 9 February 2014. Further subjects discussed included research cooperation, dual-track systems of vocational education and training, direct democracy, Europe’s international responsibilities and the role of the OSCE in places such as Ukraine.

Key questions on Europe

Germany is Switzerland’s most important economic partner. In recent years, bilateral cooperation has further intensified, such as in the field of energy. This is mainly because of the decision made by both countries to give up nuclear energy. As an EU member, Germany is also a key partner for Switzerland on European affairs.

Switzerland and Germany work together closely on research. They are both important partners in EU research programmes, for example the ‘Human Brain Project’ at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). The aim of this international project is to simulate the human brain using a computer.

Over 285,000 Germans currently live in Switzerland. Over 80,000 Swiss nationals live in Germany. Around 57,000 German cross-border workers are employed in Switzerland.

In office since 2012

The last official presidential meeting took place as part of the quartet meeting of the heads of state of Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria and Switzerland in Innsbruck in September 2013. The last state visit to Switzerland made by a German President was on 8-9 September 2010, when the office was held by Christian Wulff.

Joachim Gauck has been President of the Federal Republic of Germany since 18.3.2012. As head of state he represents the Federal Republic and is active in promoting the country's interests in a range of areas such as domestic, integration and development policy.

Media release, 1 April 2014