Switzerland's enlargement contribution to Bulgaria and Romania comes to a close

Press releases, 20.01.2020

Over the last ten years, Switzerland has provided CHF 257 million from its enlargement contribution to support projects in Bulgaria and Romania. The two countries joined the European Union (EU) in 2007. The contribution aimed to reduce economic and social disparities in Europe and within Bulgaria and Romania. The 93 projects, which came to a close in December 2019, have achieved good results. Switzerland's support contributes to greater stability in Europe, which is also in the country's interests.

Pupils working in a vocational school workshop
Pupils at the Henry Ford vocational school in Sofia © SDC

Switzerland's enlargement contribution is aimed at increasing public and social security, strengthening civil society, protecting the environment and improving working conditions. The Swiss-supported projects in Bulgaria and Romania also contributed to these goals, for example:

• Projects focusing on promoting energy efficiency and renewable energies as well as developing public transport, which enabled Romania to reduce its annual CO2 emissions by 7,000 tonnes.
• Swiss-supported projects that improved access to education and health services for 70,000 Roma children.
• Loans for around 500 Romanian SMEs so that 3,000 jobs were created or saved. Around 80 SMEs also completed marketing and management training.
• Authorities and civil society organisations from Bulgaria, Romania and Switzerland worked together to combat human trafficking. This joint approach helped improve prevention as well as protection and reintegration for victims.

As the units responsible for Switzerland's enlargement contribution, the SDC and SECO are pleased with the results of the last ten years' extensive cooperation with Bulgaria and Romania. The projects have had a wide-ranging impact on reducing economic and social disparities in the enlarged EU and have helped address cross-border challenges as well as strengthen bilateral ties.

Close bilateral cooperation
Switzerland concluded each of the 93 projects bilaterally with the respective partner country. It assessed the proposals submitted by Bulgaria and Romania and decided on the financing. This ensures that support measures are in line with partner countries' priorities and strategies. Another consideration was where and how Swiss expertise could add particular value to a given project.  The SDC's projects in Bulgaria and Romania were managed by Swiss institutions specialising in security, vocational education and training, civil society, health and integrating the Roma community.

They contributed Switzerland's know-how where local institutions lacked the necessary expertise in these fields. Around 200 partnerships between institutions from Bulgaria, Romania and Switzerland were established and another 40 research partnerships were funded.
The partner countries themselves were responsible for implementing the projects, including bi-annual reporting to Switzerland on the progress being made and the invoices that had submitted. In general, Switzerland's contribution to project costs amounted to 85%; the rest was financed by the partner country. To help support the implementation of the projects, Switzerland opened two offices in Bucharest and Sofia. It also contracted external experts with specific expertise to examine the feasibility studies and tender documents as well as the services provided on location. These control mechanisms made it possible for the SDC and SECO to ensure that all project funds were used efficiently and appropriately. 

In 2004, ten new countries joined the EU: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania also became EU member states in 2007, with Croatia joining in 2013.

For Switzerland, EU enlargement was a step to greater security, stability and prosperity across the whole of Europe. The extension of the Swiss-EU bilateral agreements to the new member states was also politically and economically beneficial for Switzerland. To this end, in 2006 the Swiss electorate voted in favour of a contribution to the enlarged EU as a sign of solidarity towards the new member states in eastern Europe.
Parliament then approved a CHF 1 billion framework credit for these ten new EU member states, followed in 2009 by a second framework credit of CHF 257 million for Bulgaria and Romania. In 2014, Parliament also approved a CHF 45 million contribution for the EU's newest member Croatia. Having now completed all of its projects in Bulgaria and Romania, Switzerland's cooperation with 12 of the aforementioned 13 countries, which dates back to 2007, has come to a close. Enlargement contribution projects in Croatia will run until 2024.

On 3 December 2019, Parliament approved the framework credits for a second Swiss contribution to selected EU member states. This is an important step that reflects Switzerland's clear commitment to contributing further to stability, security and prosperity throughout Europe. However, Parliament also decided that no commitments would be entered into with respect to the framework credits if and for as long as the EU continues to adopt discriminatory measures against Switzerland. This means that Switzerland will not sign bilateral agreements with partner countries to implement the second Swiss contribution until the EU removes all such discriminatory measures.

Further information:

FDFA Communication,
tel. +41 58 462 31 53,

Lorenz Jakob, SECO,
tel. +41 58 468 60 56,

Further information:

The Swiss contribution in brief
Swiss interests
Results in Romania
Results in Bulgaria
Projects in Romania
Projects in Bulgaria

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs