The President of the Swiss Council of States has invited the Association of European Senates to hold its annual conference in Switzerland this year, namely from 20 to 22 April. The Presidents of 16 European Senates will be taking part in the meeting, where the central theme will be "The Senates' contribution towards grass-roots politics".

The conference will start on Thursday 20 April with an official dinner hosted by the President of the Swiss Council of States, Rolf Büttiker. Mr Büttiker will officially open the meeting on Friday 21 April in the chamber of the National Council. Each delegation will give a brief presentation of the contribution its Senate makes towards grass-roots politics in its own country, namely at an institutional level. In the afternoon, two young Swiss citizens will discuss the theme of the meeting with the presidents of the Senates, under the chairmanship of State Councillor Alain Berset. The presidents of the Senates will also have a meeting with Federal Councillor Samuel Schmid. The final part of the meeting will be a visit to the canton of Solothurn on Saturday 22 April.

The Association of European Senates was founded in 2000 on the initiative of the President of the French Senate, Christian Poncelet. At the annual conferences the delegations discuss the particular experiences, prospects and challenges connected to a two-chamber parliament. The aim of the association is to facilitate cooperation between its members, to promote parliamentary democracy through the two-chamber system and to reinforce Euopean awareness. The upper chambers of 16 European countries are represented in the association.

Further information available at: and (list of participants, etc.)

Berne, 19.04.2006    Parliamentary Services