Strengthening civil society

Group effort: young people painting a picture
The Swiss enlargement contribution is providing CHF 105 million to finance projects to strengthen civil society, establishing this youth centre in Latvia, for example. © SDC

The Swiss enlargement contribution provides CHF 105 million for financing projects that strengthen civil society. A support fund for non-governmental organisations (NGO fund) that includes 700 small projects is financed in all partner countries, except Malta.

In the Baltic countries, all project funds have already been committed and the first projects completed. The NGO fund particularly supports social and environmental projects that support and strengthen the participation of civil society in the economic and social development of the country. Overall, one in five projects is realised with Swiss involvement. The NGOs benefit from Swiss expert knowledge by involving Swiss partners in projects. At the same time, Swiss organisations can expand their networks and improve their competences thanks to partnerships with organisations in the partner countries. In Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, the Czech Republic and Hungary, there is a partnership fund in addition to the NGO fund. A total of around 150 partnership projects are in the pipeline that support the exchange of knowledge and know-how between Swiss municipalities and institutions and the partner countries.

First results

First results in target area Strengthening civil society. © SECO/SDC

Documents (6)

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The Swiss Enlargement Contribution

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs present an interim balance sheet on the first five years since the approval of the Enlargement Contribution to the new 10 EU-Member States. The projects are to be implemented within another five year period, i.e., by 2017.







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News (13)

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A home for abandoned children in Romania

A young man and a boy eating together in the PeCA children's home.

21.09.2016 – Article

Many Romanian children find themselves in a home – not because they are orphans but for reasons of poverty.  Since the 1990s, members of the Swiss-Romanian association for abandoned children have run a home for abandoned children in the Transylvanian town of Ghimbav. The home offers these children a family environment to grow up in.


Volunteer fire brigade in Romania – civil society involvement

Three people place their hands on top of each together in a  collective gesture of their collaboration.

06.07.2016 – Article

Romanian civil society is working to set up a volunteer fire service. More than five years ago the Romanian Parliament passed a law according to which every municipality in the country should have its own volunteer fire brigade. Unfortunately the municipalities did not have the necessary funds so that in many places the law remained dead letter. For this reason, Romanian civil society, with the support of the Opération Villages Roumains - Suisse association and the Swiss contribution to the enlarged EU, has become involved.


Swiss-Czech partnership for the rights of the child

19.04.2016 – Article

Unfortunately, not all children are lucky enough to grow up in a family that remains intact. In the Czech Republic too, some children and young people live in homes or other institutions. The aim for the future is to accommodate children in foster families. The Swiss-Czech partnership is building awareness in the Czech Republic of children's rights.


Successful completion of the NGO and scholarship funds in Hungary

A woman in a garden

16.11.2015 – Article

On 12 October 2015, a closing event was held for the NGO fund and the scholarship programme in Miskolc in Hungary. In total, 102 small-scale projects have been implemented, benefiting disadvantaged adults and children or promoting a responsible approach to the environment. In addition, 679 schoolchildren from disadvantaged backgrounds have benefited from a scholarship fund.



Federal Council opens consultation on the continuation of the Federal Act on Cooperation with the States of Eastern Europe

17.12.2014 – Media release
The Federal Council has opened the consultation on the continuation of the Federal Act on Cooperation with the States of Eastern Europe (Eastern Europe Cooperation Act). The current act is still valid until the end of May 2017. A timely prolongation should enable the seamless continuation of cooperation with the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The consultation will last until 31 March 2015.


End of commitment period for enlargement contribution to Bulgaria and Romania

A man standing in front of a machine using a remote control.

08.12.2014 – Media release
The commitment period of the enlargement contribution for Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007, ended on 7 December. In all, 13 thematic funds and 28 projects totalling CHF 257 million were approved. The Swiss commitment aims to eradicate social and economic disparities in the enlarged European Union (EU).


The President of the Swiss Confederation, Didier Burkhalter, meets the Maltese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr George W. Vella

04.11.2014 – Media release
The President of the Swiss Confederation and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) met the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Malta on Tuesday for an official working visit at the Watteville House in Bern. The meeting was an opportunity to take stock of various international and multilateral issues and of the development of bilateral relations between Switzerland and Malta. A memorandum of understanding was signed.


21 partnership projects nearing completion

Cooperation works – Philippe Nendaz with Agata Stwora, head teacher of the Polish special needs school in Łodygowice.

20.08.2014 – Article

In summer 2014 the majority of the 21 Swiss-Polish partnership projects will come to a close. An evaluation of 16 Swiss project partners has concluded that the majority of the projects were carried out successfully and that the exchange of experience and knowledge was enriching for both sides.


Swiss Expertise solicited in Czech winter-sports resorts

cable car

25.03.2013 – Article

Within the scope of a small project that unfolded in the frame of the Czech-Swiss Partnership Fund, the national branch-association Swiss Cableways (SBS) and the Czech Association for Transportation by Rope Asociace Ianové dopravy (ALDR), exchanged their know-how in the domains of training and marketing. The project, endowed with a budget of CHF 40,000, took place from January to December 2012.


A small Project in the cultural Domain between Hungary and Switzerland

Niki Donka and Gábor Várhegyi of the Pannónia Singers at the Advent Concert on 14 December 2012

17.01.2013 – Article

The first events in connection with the partnership project entitled “Swiss-Hungarian Civil Cultural Days” took place in Bern and in Bolligen in mid-December 2012. The project, which unfolded within the scope of the Swiss Enlargement Contribution, was co-financed by Switzerland to the tune of some CHF 60,000, the objective being to promote tourism and cultural exchange between Hungary and Switzerland, in particular between the cities of Eger and Bern. Launched on 1 September 2012, the project is scheduled to last for one year.


Partnership project in the domain of sports

15.10.2012 – Article

The goal of the Partnership Fund is to support and expand institutional cooperation between Switzerland and the partner countries concerned. All told, over 150 small projects have been implemented in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. In the majority of cases, the focus is on projects in the environmental or social domains, but not always. For instance, a small project in the Czech Republic is fostering cooperation in the teaching of sport between an Aikido school in Langenthal and a gymnastics club.

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Publications (1)

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The Swiss Enlargement Contribution

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs present an interim balance sheet on the first five years since the approval of the Enlargement Contribution to the new 10 EU-Member States. The projects are to be implemented within another five year period, i.e., by 2017.


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