President Sommaruga meets the King and Prime Minister of the Netherlands

Press Release, FDJP, 23.11.2015

Bern. The Netherlands will assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2016. Partly in view of that, President Simonetta Sommaruga met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for a working visit in The Hague on Monday. The two discussed a range of issues including European and asylum policy and efforts to fight terrorism. Before the meeting, President Sommaruga paid a courtesy visit to King Willem-Alexander.

During the talks, President Sommaruga updated Prime Minister Rutte about the state of progress of the ongoing consultations between Switzerland and the European Commission on the free movement of persons. Mrs Sommaruga spoke about the Federal Council’s aim, following the popular vote of 9 February 2014, to find a solution regarding the agreement on the free movement of persons with the EU, which would allow Switzerland to regulate immigration independently. At the same time, it would also like to strengthen and renew the bilateral path. Prime Minister Rutte, for his part, set out the goals and priorities of the Dutch presidency of the Council of the European Union.

A further key issue addressed during the discussions was European migration and asylum policy. Both President Sommaruga and Prime Minister Rutte stressed the importance of a coordinated and united European policy. No European country is capable of finding a solution on its own. Both declared their support for the swift implementation of the EU’s programme to resettle 160 000 people in need of protection. However, in order for this to happen the necessary facilities in Italy and Greece (hotspots) need to be put in place swiftly, along with the systematic registration of newly arriving migrants.

Accelerated asylum procedure

In Switzerland’s efforts to reorganise its asylum procedures, the measures adopted by Parliament in September drew on the Dutch model of accelerated asylum procedures. Mrs Sommaruga thanked her discussion partners for their support. This year almost 47,000 asylum applications have been submitted in the Netherlands up to the end of October, almost twice as many as in the same period last year.

Cooperation in the fight against terrorism

At the meeting, both sides stressed the importance of international cooperation in the fight against terrorism. There needs to be a common response to the attacks in Paris. States have to exchange information in a timely manner and work together closely across borders.

The situation in Syria and Ukraine was also addressed at the meeting. Prime Minister Rutte thanked Switzerland for its work as chair of the OSCE last year.

Before her meeting with Prime Minister Rutte, President Sommaruga paid a courtesy visit to King Willem-Alexander. During their discussion the two affirmed that relations between the two countries were excellent.

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