Emmanuel Macron begins on Wednesday a rare state visit by a president of the French Republic to Switzerland. neighboring Switzerland, the signal of a warming between the two countries with the relationship to Europe in focus.
Switzerland had caught the French authorities cold by announcing its choice of the American F-35 in preference to the French Rafale to modernize its air force, a contract worth more than 6 billion euros.
Berne had already shocked the entire European Union in May 2021 by announcing that it was abandoning negotiations for a framework agreement with the 27, after years of discussions.
The Rafale page is now over and the Swiss government has resumed communication with Brussels and is preparing to negotiate once again with the Commission.
This turning point is “excellent news”, we rejoice in Paris. “This dynamic must now materialize,” added an advisor to Emmanuel Macron, specifying that the latter will carry “a message of acceleration” to “relaunch negotiations in order to reach an agreement as quickly as possible”.
“Relations with the EU must be at the center of discussions”, underlined Charles Juillard, president of the Delegation for relations with the French Parliament in an interview with the Keystone-ATS agency.
The rapprochement with the EU is a very sensitive political subject in Switzerland for questions of sovereignty, independence of the judicial system or even protection of salaries. The unions have already expressed their skepticism, as has the country's leading party, the UDC (radical right).
– State visit –
The French president and his wife Brigitte will be entitled to the consideration reserved for the most important guests while the last visit of a French head of state – François Hollande – dates back to 2015.
French President Emmanuel Macron and that of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset, June 22, 2023 at the Elysée, in Paris © AFP – Ludovic MARIN
Emmanuel Macron will be greeted as he gets off the plane by Alain Berset, the President of the Confederation. The Swiss press emphasizes that the two men like each other.
This will be the Swiss' political swan song.
The one who remains the most popular member of the Federal Council will leave office at the end of the year.
Military honors, meeting with the seven members of the Federal Council, the government of the confederation, speeches at the Palace of Parliament and gala dinner will mark the first day.
These visits are rare. Besides François Hollande in 2015, only Jacques Chirac in 1998, François Mitterrand in 1983 and Armand Fallières in 1910 had made this trip.
– Europe, startup and science –
The day of Thursday will be much less formal.
The French president placed it under the sign of Europe. He will visit the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe in Lausanne before meeting students from the University to talk about the “major societal issues” of the European Union. He also agreed to answer questions from the public.
The economy will also play its role, the two countries being important trade partners.
Switzerland is the third largest investor in France.
Emmanuel Macron will have the opportunity to meet economic leaders in Lausanne, before the president of the “Start-up Nation” took a special train for the half-hour separating him from Geneva with leaders of start-ups on board.
The trip two days will conclude on a fundamental science note with a visit to CERN, the European laboratory for nuclear research and particle physics, straddling the Franco-Swiss border.
The opportunity to evoke the pharaonic project of Future Circular Collider. A particle accelerator 100 kilometers in circumference, which is not unanimous within the scientific community but which in the eyes of its defenders should enable the search for new physics.
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