Representatives of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and the Integration Office of the FDFA/FDEA informed the European Commission today on the implementation status of the Enlargement Contribution, the project selection procedure, and the outlook for the future. By the end of March 2010, 61 project proposals, representing an amount of CHF 346 million, and 51 definitive project applications, for an amount of CHF 235 million, had been approved as beneficiaries of Swiss support within the scope of the Enlargement Contribution in Central and Eastern Europe. In other words, a total amount of CHF 581 million, i.e., 61% of the budget for projects in the ten new Member State, has been either provisionally earmarked or definitively approved. From the Swiss point of view, the implementation of the Enlargement Contribution is unfolding in an overall satisfactory manner and can in all likelihood be concluded according to plan. Numerous positive reactions from the partner States bear witness to the fact that this cooperation with Switzerland is well appreciated.
Switzerland has allotted one billion francs to support the development of the ten States that became members of the EU in its 2004 enlargement towards the East. In June 2007, the Swiss parliament approved the corresponding framework credit. Shortly thereafter, Switzerland negotiated bilateral framework agreements with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Cyprus, agreements which were signed in December 2007. The Swiss Enlargement Contribution to the EU-10 unfolds in the form of projects and programmes which Switzerland, working in close cooperation with its local partners, chooses and implements.
The review conducted today by the representatives of the Swiss Confederation and the EU Commission emerges as a result of a declaration signed by Switzerland and the EU, according to which an evaluation of the specific use of Switzerland’s Enlargement Contribution is to be conducted after two and after four years. The next joint review on the utilization of the funds is scheduled to take place at the end of 2011, and is to comprise all twelve of the new EU Member States, i.e., Bulgaria and Romania as well. A separate contribution of CHF 257 million has been earmarked for the benefit of these two most recent EU Member States. Once the corresponding bilateral framework agreements have been ratified, concrete activities can be launched.