The Heads of Government of the Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Republic of Poland and the President of the Swiss Confederation met on the 9th December 2014 in Bratislava at their first meeting in this format. They discussed various current international and economic issues as well as other topics of common interest, including the relations between the EU and Switzerland. The meeting has been organized within the framework of the Slovak Presidency of the Visegrad Group (V4).
V4 countries and Switzerland agree that the energy security is a key priority to be considered in a short and long term perspective. V4 and Switzerland recognize the benefits of the utilization of indigenous energy sources and
the right of countries to decide of their own energy mix in line with the objectives of secure, sustainable and affordable energy supply.
V4 and Switzerland recognize the need of adopting adequate measures for increasing energy security in Europe and preserving the international competitiveness of European industry.
They agree that the completion of the European internal energy market and increased interconnections represent an important enhancement of European energy security. In this context, the implementation of the projects of common interest and the diversification of supply routes and energy sources as well as enhanced cooperation with the EU neighbouring countries under the Energy Community are of crucial importance for Europe. They also agree that renewable energies, indigenous energy resources, safe and sustainable clean coal technologies, other low carbon energy sources and energy efficiency all contribute to European energy security.
V4 and Switzerland exchanged views on the situation in and around Ukraine as well as in other Eastern Partnership countries. They expressed concerns over the deteriorating security and stability in Europe.
They agreed that the foundations of European security as defined in the Paris Charter on the basis of the Helsinki Final Act need to be restored. They have been seriously put into question by Russian violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including illegal annexation of Crimea.
The V4 and Switzerland reaffirm their support for a political process to resolve the crisis in Ukraine based on the full implementation of all provisions of the Minsk Protocol and the related Minsk Memorandum, which respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The principles of international law and good neighbourly relations have to be respected.
The 26 October early parliamentary elections marked an important step in Ukraine’s aspirations to consolidate democratic elections in line with its international commitments. V4 and Switzerland voice support for the new parliament and government to swiftly continue to tackle the urgent and necessary reforms.
The V4 and Switzerland expressed their deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in parts of Ukraine controlled by separatists. They called for the respect of International Humanitarian Law and for full and unimpeded humanitarian access to guarantee an effective humanitarian response based on humanitarian principles. They welcome the steps taken by Ukraine to ensure rights and freedom to the internally displaced persons, at the same time call on all responsible parties to take further steps to address all impediments concerning the implementation of humanitarian programmes. Priority should be given especially for maintaining basic services in affected areas, to avoid the further isolation of people and the increase in humanitarian needs.
V4 and Switzerland agree that the challenges to the European security should be addressed without further delay and support the OSCE efforts in that regard. V4 expressed interest in the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship’s initiative of establishing the Panel of eminent persons which may complement and support efforts of OSCE to re-establish full respect for the Helsinki Principles. Both sides expect the Panel representing all regions of the OSCE to elaborate a set of recommendations concerning the next steps to be taken in strengthening European security.
V4 countries and Switzerland consider the mutual strengthening of ties in the domains of trade and investment as an important element in raising the competitiveness of their economies. Increased collaboration and exchanges between the respective business communities could contribute to foster investments in the V4 countries. V4 countries and Switzerland recognize the importance for each country to create a sound and stable macroeconomic, financial and regulatory framework in order to encourage technology transfer and high added value investments between them.
V4 and Switzerland support the enhancing of competitiveness and innovation in their economies. New challenges in climate and energy policies also call for new approaches, in order to support job creation and economic growth.
V4 and Switzerland underline their common interest in widening their cooperation in the fields of science, research and innovation and in encouraging activities directly initiated by their respective autonomous institutions, and funded through existing national and international mechanisms. V4 and Switzerland welcome opportunities for sharing experience and exploring ways for cooperation on the basis of mutual interest in education, with a special focus on vocational and professional education and training.
V4 and Switzerland participate together in various international large research infrastructures, such as CERN, and recognize their significant impacts not only on science, but also on economic innovation and on society.
The EU–Swiss relations are firmly bound by shared values of freedom, peace, democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, the fight against poverty and the preservation of natural resources and the common endeavour to promote them globally. These shared political and cultural values as well as the intense economic relations between Switzerland and the EU underpin a strong relationship with potential for further development.
V4 and Switzerland agree that a suitable institutional framework between the EU and Switzerland would constitute a qualitative leap ahead ensuring homogeneity and legal certainty in their relations. In this regard, V4 and Switzerland welcome the opening of negotiations about the institutional framework in May 2014 and expect substantial progress to be achieved without unnecessary delay. V4 and Switzerland underline their common interest to strengthen the relations between Switzerland and the EU by means of consolidating and further developing the bilateral way in areas of mutual interest.
Following the Swiss popular vote of February 9, 2014 and bearing in mind the importance of mutual relations and interest of the EU and Switzerland, V4 and Switzerland underline the necessity to secure a viable solution for the free movement of persons to be negotiated between the European Union and Switzerland while recognizing it is a fundamental principle of the European Union.
V4 and Switzerland welcome the Joint Statement on Company Tax Issues between the Member States of the European Union and the Swiss Federal Council signed in the margins of the EU/EFTA finance ministers' meeting in Luxembourg on October 14, 2014 as well as the political commitment of Switzerland and the EU Member States within the OECD to adopt the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters.
V4 and Switzerland acknowledge the importance of the Swiss contribution aimed at alleviating social and economic disparities in the enlarged EU. The V4 countries and Switzerland reiterate their strong commitment to make sure that the numerous projects financed by the Swiss contribution achieve expected results. Following the expiry of Swiss contribution in June 2012, V4 countries express their strong wish of its renewal. Switzerland notes that it will decide on a continued contribution in light of the overall development of the EU–Swiss relations.
V4 and Switzerland express their intention to continue mutual dialogue in the future. Regular exchange of views on issues of common interest, such as foreign and European policy including EU–Swiss relations, and in the areas of education, science, research, innovation, economic cooperation including joint business and investment fora will bring added value to existing partnerships based on well-established bilateral formats.
V4 and Switzerland welcome common initiatives in sectors such as economic development, research and innovation, vocational and professional education and training as well as protection of the environment and energy.