n its European policy, Switzerland assumes its responsibility towards Europe as a whole. Since the end of the Cold War, Switzerland has been supporting the democratic and economic reforms in the former communist states of Eastern Europe (traditional aid to Eastern Europe). In this context, the Federal Council has been helping for the last decade to reduce the economic and social disparities in the enlarged EU. Switzerland’s contribution has helped to fund approximately 300 projects in the 13 member states which have joined the EU since 2004. While a proportion of the projects have been completed, many projects in Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia are still under way.
Switzerland’s efforts in this respect are not part of the EU’s cohesion policy. Switzerland implements its contribution autonomously in close cooperation with its partner countries. The enlargement contribution expresses Switzerland’s solidarity with the enlarged EU and helps at the same time to further Swiss interests in Europe. Switzerland benefits politically and economically from the growing stability and security that result from the successful integration of the new EU member states.
On 30 September 2016, Parliament approved the renewal of the Federal Act on Cooperation with the States of Eastern Europe. The Act, which has been in force since 1 June 2017, serves as a basis for the ongoing transition cooperation with Eastern European countries outside the EU and continues to provide the legal basis for Switzerland’s contribution to the enlarged EU. The renewal of the legal basis does not pre-empt a decision on an actual renewal of the enlargement contribution. Any decision by the Federal Council to renew the Swiss enlargement contribution will depend on overall developments in relations between the EU and Switzerland.