With its submission of the dispatch the Federal Council confirms the CHF 45 million enlargement contribution to Croatia that it had proposed on 8 March 2013. With this autonomously approved contribution, the Federal Council wishes to treat Croatia in the same way as the other "new" member states that have joined the EU since 2004. Support for projects and programmes that have been carefully selected in close collaboration with Croatia is aimed at reducing the considerable economic and social disparities that exist in the enlarged EU. Through concrete projects Switzerland is helping to improve living conditions in these countries and enhance security.
Switzerland decides autonomously on the type and scope of the projects it supports, as indeed was the case with its enlargement contributions to the ten member states that joined the EU in 2004 (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) and the two that joined in 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania). The priority areas and specific procedures for implementation will form part of a bilateral framework agreement which will be negotiated directly with Croatia in due course. This agreement will take into account the following main areas of activity as set out in the MoU with the EU: security, stability and support for reforms; environment and infrastructure; promotion of the private sector; human and social development.
Parliament takes decision on framework credit
The enlargement contribution to Croatia must be approved by Parliament in the form of a framework credit. Only then will the Federal Council be able to conclude the framework agreement with Croatia for the implementation of the enlargement contribution. The legal basis for this commitment is the Federal Act on Cooperation with the States of Eastern Europe, which was approved by the people in November 2006 and will expire at the end of May 2017. The funds will have to have been committed to specific projects before that date.
Key facts concerning Croatia
Croatia has been in recession since the international economic and financial crisis. Per capita GDP (adjusted for purchasing power) in Croatia stands at approximately 62% of the EU average. Further economic and social reforms are needed. Bilateral trade between Switzerland and Croatia grew significantly from the mid-1990s, but then entered a slump induced by the financial crisis. Swiss exports to Croatia registered a surplus of some CHF 100 million in 2013.