Agreement between the FDFA and the World Economic Forum: the facts

On 30 January 2020, the online platform 'infosperber' reported that the FDFA had 'concealed' the fact that Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, signed an agreement last week. The FDFA neither concealed this information nor went beyond its remit in signing this memorandum of understanding.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab signing the agreement in Davos.

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab signing an agreement on extended cooperation on 21 January 2020. © FDFA

Agreement signed in public

In fact, the press were informed in advance that an agreement was to be signed and were invited to attend the event. Mr Cassis alluded to the signing of the agreement in a much publicised tweet. Moreover, he distributed copies of the agreement to the journalists present at his final Davos press conference last Thursday. On 29 January, the infosperber reporter also received responses to questions she raised together with a copy of the agreement. Lastly, the agreement was issued promptly to members of Parliament who requested this. The FDFA emphatically rejects the claim that it deliberately tried to stifle publicity about the signing of the agreement. 

The 2015 agreement between the Federal Council and World Economic Forum provides for an agreement between the FDFA and the Forum

The Agreement between the Swiss Federal Council and the  World Economic Forum governing the status of the World Economic Forum foundation in Switzerland (in German and French) provides that the FDFA and the Forum may enter into an agreement governing extended cooperation. The relevant authorities in other departments, i.e. the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF), were consulted in advance. The claim that the Federal Council was not informed is therefore untrue.

Integrating the World Economic Forum into International Geneva

The agreement is key to ensuring that the World Economic Forum, which is based in Geneva, is more effectively integrated into International Geneva. Reinforcing International Geneva as a platform for addressing future challenges is a priority for the Federal Council. The agreement also allows the Forum to be used more effectively as a strategic platform.

The many 'House of Switzerland' events bringing together stakeholders from a range of sectors, including academia, research, business, development cooperation, law and politics, this year and in the past, emphasise the importance of International Geneva as a platform for sharing ideas.

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