On Wednesday, the president of the National Council, Dominique de Buman (CVP/FR), will meet with the president of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea. And on 4 June, he will welcome the president of the Austrian National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka. Austria will hold the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of the year, while Romania will assume the presidency of the EU Council for the first time in the first half of 2019.

​The visit by the president of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea, follows that of Christa Markwalder (FDP/BE) to Romania in May 2016 during her year as National Council president. Topics on the agenda during the talks between Mr de Buman and his Romanian counterpart are likely to include the Schengen area and Romania’s priorities during its first presidency of the Council of the EU commencing in January next year. During his time in Bern, Liviu Dragnea will also pay a courtesy visit to President Alain Berset.

Aside from its membership of the EU, Romania is a country of economic interest to Switzerland. With cumulative direct investment of EUR 2.2 billion up to 31 December 2015, Switzerland ranks 8th in terms of foreign investment. The volume of trade with Romania exceeded CHF 1 billion in 2010 and was around CHF 1.3 billion in 2016. Since the 1990s, political, economic and cultural relations between the two countries have been vibrant and intensive.

On the Monday of the second week of the parliamentary session, the National Council president will receive the president of the Austrian National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka. The visit will also provide the Austrian delegation with an opportunity to hold talks with the president of the Council of States, Karin Keller-Sutter (FDP/SG), and with members of the National Council Foreign Affairs Committee. The main topics addressed at the separate meetings will include bilateral relations, European policy and migration. Mr Sobotka will also pay a courtesy visit to Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, and hold discussions with Federal Chancellor Walter Thurnherr on direct democracy, and with State Secretary Mario Gattiker on migration.

The frequent visits at all levels are an indication of the close and friendly relations between Austria and Switzerland. Over 40,000 Austrian nationals live in Switzerland, and a further 8,000 are cross-border workers. Some 16,000 Swiss nationals live in Austria. The two neighbours are also mutually important trade partners. Relations between the two parliaments were placed on an institutional footing in 2005 with the creation of two standing delegations. The Austria-Swiss Parliamentary Group and the Delegation for Relations with the Austrian Parliament foster relations with their neighbour and maintain regular contact. Members from both delegations will also be present at the meeting.