Disparities in the level of development of different parts of Macedonia have been persisting for a long time. The least developed regions are severely lagging behind the more developed ones – with much higher unemployment rates and much lower share in the country’s GDP. To help address this, Switzerland has been supporting regional development in Macedonia since 2012. Over the last five years, the Swiss programme helped Macedonia progress towards the development of adequate regional development policy and the reduction of regional disparities. Such success has been achieved notably through increased debate between the national and regional institutions and involvement of regional and local actors, the civil society, the academic community and the business community in regional development planning.
Based on these positive achievements, Switzerland has decided to continue to support the Government of Macedonia in its efforts to decrease disparities in the level of development among and within the planning regions. The ultimate goal of the Swiss support is that citizens, in particular those of the less developed regions in the country, benefit from better living conditions. To this effect, the Embassy of Switzerland, the Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, and the Ministry of Local Self Government signed on November 10, 2017 a Memorandum of Understanding.
The Memorandum provides a framework for cooperation on regional development among the three institutions for the following three years, and marks the launch of the new Swiss-supported “Sustainable and Inclusive Balanced Regional Development” project. Through this project, Switzerland commits to further support Macedonia in its efforts to decrease development disparities between the eight planning regions, notably by acquiring software for monitoring budgetary allocations per region, by training the relevant institutions, by awarding performance based and innovative grants, and by supporting policy development. The Swiss contribution amounts to CHF 3.6 million, while the Government of Macedonia contributes additional CHF 1.7 million.