The new Federal Act on cooperation with Eastern Europe replaces the provisional Federal Decision of 1995. Its coming into effect on 1 June 2007 will allow Switzerland's cooperation with the countries of South Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to continue without interruption, and creates a new legal foundation for Switzerland's contribution to the enlarged European Union. With this contribution, Switzerland is participating in efforts to reduce economic and social disparities in the ten countries which became members of the EU on 1 May 2004. With the exception of Malta and Cyprus, the ten new members are all in Central and Eastern Europe.
The third framework credit for Switzerland's traditional assistance to Eastern Europe will be fully committed by June 2007. To prevent any unwanted interruption in Switzerland's proven track record in this areas of cooperation, Parliament will decide on a framework credit for continuing its traditional assistance to Eastern Europe and on the amount to be transferred to the enlarged EU. This decision can only be made once a valid legal basis is in place. This will be achieved when the new Federal Act on cooperation with Eastern Europe comes into effect on 1 June 2007.
The Federal Act on cooperation with Eastern Europe defines the kind of assistance, its objectives, and its procedures. It is an integral part of Swiss foreign policy, and supports the process of democratization and market reform in the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).At the same time, it is both an investment in safeguarding Switzerland's own interests, by opening up opportunities for business in these growth markets, and a continuation of Switzerland's tradition of solidarity with these countries. Switzerland benefits from the economic expansion of these markets as well as from the political advantages gained from the greater security and stability the assistance aims to achieve.