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Bern, 23.01.2013 – The Federal Council believes that the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting is of great importance to Davos and to Switzerland. Each year, this event brings together leaders from the worlds of business, industry and government. It serves as a venue for an informal exchange of opinions on major topical issues. In view of the current economic challenges and difficulties in the financial markets, the opportunity for such direct contact among decision-makers from government, industry and civil society is extremely valuable.

The WEF Annual Meeting provides the Federal Council with a unique platform to cultivate relations with a great many leading figures in a special setting. Hosting this forum in which ideas are exchanged and solutions sought is an outstanding opportunity for Switzerland.

On 23 January, Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation and head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport DDPS, will open the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos along with Prof. Klaus Schwab. Besides a dozen or so meetings with heads of state and prime ministers, including Russia’s prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, the Italian prime minister Mario Monti and Israeli president Shimon Peres. He is also due to meet the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak. On Thursday, 24 January, President Maurer will take part in the open forum on the subject of large-scale sports events.

Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER, will be in Davos from 23 to 26 January. During this time he will meet with several ministers for economics, trade and industry, in particular those from Switzerland’s neighbouring states and from states with which the country is currently engaged in negotiations regarding free trade agreements. Among these will be Mr Schneider-Ammann’s counterparts from Italy, Corrado Passera, and Germany, Philipp Rösler and Ursula Von der Leyen. He will also hold talks with the trade and industry ministers of India, Anand Sharma, and Indonesia, Gita Wirjawan, the vice-president of the EU Commission Joaquin Almunia, who is responsible for competition policy, and EU commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier. A meeting with Angel Gurria, the Secretary General of the OECD, and a working breakfast with the presidents of development banks are also planned. On Saturday, 26 January, Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann will host an informal meeting with about 25 fellow ministers to discuss preparations for the ninth WTO Minister Conference, to be held at the beginning of December in Bali.

Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA, and President Ueli Maurer will be meeting a number of heads of state. Further meetings are lined up with the foreign ministers of Germany, Guido Westerwelle, and Norway, Espen Barth Eide, as well as with U Nyan Tun, Vice President of Myanmar, and the Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati. At the Global Compact Lunch Mr Burkhalter will meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Finally, an exchange of ideas with former British prime minister Tony Blair is also planned.

On 24 January, Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, head of Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications DETEC, will lead a round of discussions on energy efficiency in conjunction with the WEF. Participants will include Singapore’s deputy trade and industry minister S. Iswaran, chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA) Fatih Birol, chairman of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jon Wellinghoff, the city of Johannesburg’s executive mayor Parks Tau, and numerous other representatives from the energy sector.

Federal Councillor Leuthard will take part in other energy events and use this opportunity to engage in a number of bilateral discussions. She will be meeting Achim Steiner, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme UNEP, EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger, Denmark’s environment minister Ida Auken and the Norwegian energy minister, Ola Borten Moe.

Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, head of the Federal Department of Finance FDF, will be meeting the finance ministers Pierre Moscovici (France), Wolfgang Schäuble (Germany), Steven Vanackere (Belgium) and Michael Noonan (Ireland) to discuss current financial and fiscal issues. She and Thomas Jordan, President of the Swiss National Bank (SNB), will also hold talks with IMF director Christine Lagarde. Furthermore, Ms Widmer-Schlumpf will take part in the meeting with Italian prime minister Mario Monti. Finally, she and EAER-chief Johann N. Schneider-Ammann will host a meeting with the EU commissioner for the Internal Market, Michel Barnier.

Federal Councillor Alain Berset, head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA, will be meeting László Andor, the EU commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion to discuss the coordination of social insurance and pension issues. With Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, he will discuss a range of aspects relating to Swiss cooperation in UNESCO. Mr Berset will also engage in bilateral talks with German health minister Daniel Bahr, German Minister for Labour and Social Affairs Ursula von der Leyen, and Lichtenstein’s culture minister Aurelia Frick. Alain Berset will also meet Karin Johansson, State Secretary at the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.

National Council President Maya Graf and Council of States President Filippo Lombardi, heads of the two chambers in the Swiss parliament, are also in Davos.

The WEF Annual Meeting in Davos also provides numerous opportunities for contact and discussions; last-minute alterations to the programme are therefore possible. The information given above is therefore subject to change.