Both sides paid tribute to the strength of Swiss-Slovenian relations. Mr Parmelin pointed to the mutual benefits and opportunities resulting from their bilateral ties. Trade volumes, driven largely by pharmaceuticals, reached an all-time high last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, marking a 54% increase over 2019. There is also considerable collaboration in science and research and on environmental issues. The delegations commended their countries' good working relationship on the international stage, for example within the Alpine Convention.
Mr Parmelin reaffirmed Switzerland's intentions in regard to European policy and as a committed and reliable partner of the EU, even without an institutional framework agreement. Switzerland's second contribution to a number of EU member states, including Slovenia, was also discussed. The Federal Council will ask Parliament to release the funds in the near future and will seek to finalise the memorandum of understanding with the EU without delay. The Swiss president stressed the value that Switzerland places on participating in the Horizon Europe Research Framework Programme and noted its importance for bilateral collaboration in research.
During the discussions, the Slovenian side gave an overview of the main points and objectives of their upcoming EU Council presidency in the second half of the year. Switzerland welcomes Slovenia's commitment to the integration of further Western Balkan states in the EU, given the stabilising effect that the prospect of accession can bring. Other topics covered were measures to combat the pandemic and international issues.
The day's programme concluded with a visit to a Swiss-Slovenian pharmaceutical company in the central town of Mengeš. On arrival in the country the day before, Mr Parmelin visited a school in Vrtojba which has been retrofitted for energy efficiency using funds from Switzerland's contribution to the enlarged EU. Switzerland contributed CHF 22 million to Slovenia, which used around half of this to promote renewable energy and retrofit public buildings for energy efficiency.
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