Joint projects strengthening bilateral relations
Bilateral partnership projects contribute to resolving specific problems in Bulgaria and Romania and improving living conditions for local people. At the heart of these projects lies the exchange of knowledge and experience with a Swiss organisation or institution which has extensive experience in the specific area. Through the exchange of visits, project partners, local political representatives and specialists are able to share experiences. They plan and implement projects together. Switzerland supports small projects in the amount of 10,000 CHF to 100,000 CHF, while larger projects can receive a subsidy of 100,000 CHF to 250,000 CHF.
Only non-profit organisations in Switzerland and the partner countries, such as foundations, associations or cultural institutions, may participate in the cooperation programme. Public bodies such as municipalities or cantonal administrative authorities may also access these funds. Among the Swiss partners are renowned institutions and educational establishments such as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne, and also smaller organisations such as the Stiftung Lebensqualität, a Swiss foundation for improving quality of life, which has been working with Bulgaria and Romania for a number of years.
Projects already at the implementation stage
In Bulgaria already 31 projects have been identified. In Romania, following a first call for projects in 2012, 14 partnership projects have been approved. A second call for projects took place in the spring of 2014.
The projects already started are showing their first results. For example, in the Romanian town of Ghimbav a workshop has been set up to help young people with limited skills find work. The workshop is the result of a partnership between the Swiss association for abandoned children in Romania and the Romanian NGO Pentru copiii abandonati, which is supported through the partnership fund.
Mutual benefits of cooperation
Switzerland too benefits from the mutual exchange of experience, obtaining insights into different approaches at various levels. Through the partnership projects Swiss partners are also playing an active role in reducing the economic and social inequalities prevalent in Bulgaria and Romania. New institutional partnerships are formed, while existing ones are strengthened, which in turn strengthens bilateral relations between Switzerland and the two countries.