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Hollande on state visit buries tax squabbles with Switzerland

media Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga with French President Francois Hollande, Bern, Switzerland, 15 April 2015. Reuters/Alain Jocard/Pool

French President François Hollande finishes a two-day trip in Switzerland Thursday, as Paris aims to smooth relations with its wealthy neighbour over a tax-evasion row.

“In fiscal matters, information sharing on demand has been simplified and requests from the French tax authorities are generally processed,” Hollande said on Wednesday. “The issue is behind us.”

The tax evasion dispute has long weighed on relations between the two countries as French nationals take advantage of Swiss banking secrecy laws to avoid French tax authorities.

Under pressure - from France, the United States and other countries – Switzerland has reformed its banking laws to make the system more transparent by 2018.

Hollande also held a press conference with Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga in which both discussed a controversial Swiss vote from February last year to control EU immigration and work in Switzerland.

“We had frank discussions,” said Sommaruga.

But Hollande said there were “contradictions” as Switzerland wants to introduce immigration quotas but has agreed to give EU country nationals free access to its labour market.

On Thursday Hollande and Sommaruga are to travel to Zurich and Lausanne. Paris is  looking for inspiration from Swiss innovation in the areas of environment, green economic growth, clean technology and education.

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