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Bilateral Relations between Switzerland and Romania
The political, economic and cultural contacts are dynamic and intensive. As a member of the European Union (EU), Romania is one of the beneficiaries of Switzerland's contribution to reduce economic and social disparities in the expanded EU.
Since the end of the communist regime, Switzerland has committed itself to supporting the transition towards democracy and a market economy.
At the economic level, Swiss entrepreneurs are increasingly looking to invest in Romania.
At the energy policy level, the important reserves of raw materials in Romania (gas and oil) and its strategic position on the supply route from Central Asia make it a country of major importance.
Romania and Switzerland are linked by an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement as well as a double taxation agreement. Since Romania joined the EU, the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU also apply to Romania (subject to quotas until 2014 in the sphere of free movement of persons).
Switzerland is a relatively important investor in Romania. With total capital amounting to 2 billion EUR as of 31 December 2010, it ranks 8th among foreign investors.
The trade balance is favourable to Switzerland. In 2011, exports from Switzerland to Romania increased to 407 EUR million and imports from Romania to Switzerland rose to almost 300 million EUR.
Through the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER), Switzerland provides financial aid to the "New European College" in Bucharest. This is an independent Romanian institute for advanced study in the humanities and social sciences.
Scholars and artists from Rumania can apply to the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
A trainee agreement enables young people from Rumania to spend a limited period of time in Switzerland in order to acquire additional professional experience and to hone their language skills.
Since July 2007 Romania and Switzerland have been linked by an agreement on cooperation in combating terrorism and organised crime. Consisting of representatives from the two countries, the working group on countering human trafficking was established in January 2012. On the basis of the abovementioned agreement, a Romanian police attaché has been stationed at the Romanian Embassy in Bern in order to improve police cooperation between the two countries.
As Romania and Bulgaria became EU members in 2007, the Federal Council has given the green light to 257 million CHF in aid for the two countries over ten years.
The global agreement was signed on 7 September 2010 and the programme of cooperation was launched on 25 March 2011. For Romania, projects to the value of 181 million CHF will have been authorised by 2014 with the aim of reducing economic and social inequality. The funds can be spent until 2017. The contribution covers a number of areas, such as infrastructure, the environment, the private sector, health, vulnerable minorities, education, security and social development.
The implementation of projects is being monitored in Bucharest by a Swiss Contribution Office, which is in close contact with the Romanian authority responsible for coordination of the Swiss contribution.
At the end of 2011, there were 389 Swiss nationals living in Rumania, half of them have dual nationality.
The Swiss Embassy, Pro Helvetia and the Competence Centre for Cultural Foreign Policy of the Confederation (CCC) are the principal actors in Swiss cultural life in Romania. The celebrations of the centenary of diplomatic relations between the two countries contributed to developing cooperation between a variety of Swiss and Romanian institutions.
Official relations between Romania and Switzerland were only established after the independence of Romania, recognised by Switzerland on 10 June 1880. A trade agreement between the two countries was signed in 1886, prompting numerous Swiss companies to set up in Romania in the 19th century. The Romanian consulate in Bern, which opened in 1905, was transformed into a legation in 1911. The Federal Council opened the Swiss legation in Bucharest in 1916. The signing of clearing agreements in the 1930s benefited Swiss imports.
The communist period refreshed relations. A crisis affected them in 1955, when there was an attempt by Romanians in exile to seize the Romanian Embassy in Bern. The incident triggered a press campaign against Switzerland and tighter restrictions on Romanians travelling to Switzerland. In 1962, the status of the Swiss legation was raised to the rank of embassy.
The end of the Cold War, followed by the events of December 1989, gave fresh impetus to relations with Switzerland.