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04.02.2009 - Article
Summary 2008 and perspective: The first projects destined for the EU-10 have received approval

In 2008, Switzerland received project financing requests on behalf of the new EU Member States for a total amount of CHF 135.5 million, and succeeded in approving either the project outline or the final project financing proposal. Hence, the year 2009 will be able to witness implementation of the first projects. Beginning in June, the financing requests that have been granted will be published in a project database available for consultation at this website.

The Swiss Contribution to EU Enlargement is shifting from the preparatory to the implementation phase. The ten partner countries, i.e., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Cyprus, and Malta, have taken the measures necessary to adapt their national legislation so as to enable the Enlargement Contribution to be implemented, thereby creating the prerequisite conditions for project applications to be processed. The information events on the Swiss Enlargement Contribution conducted in the partner countries in 2008 drew a large audience and significantly enhanced the level of popular awareness and knowledge of the Contribution.

By the end of 2008, the SDC and SECO had provisionally or definitively approved project financing requests for a total sum of CHF 135.5 million. The requests submitted to date represent a number of different objectives and cover a wide variety of thematic domains. Financing requests have, for instance, been submitted for the reorganization of children’s homes, for the improvement of school-bus transport, the modernization of the judiciary, the creation of a fund for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the support of a center for cultural and encounters, the restoration of public infrastructure, the protection of the environment, the promotion of renewable sources of energy, and for the financing of SMEs. Still other requests have been processed concerning Technical Assistance Funds and so-called Project Preparation Facilities. For the latter, funds were made available for the preparation of high-quality project proposals replete with full details.

It is to be anticipated that the years 2009 and 2010 will see a massive leap in the number of project financing requests. Beginning in June at the latest, projects for which financing has been granted will be published in a project database available on this website. The site will also contain information on the awarding of contracts and on public tenders for goods and services.

The amount of funds committed remained rather small in 2008. It can be reckoned that the years 2009 and 2010 will witness a rapid rise in the amount. The SDC and SECO are labouring under the basic premise that the Enlargement Contribution funds shall be able to be fully committed by mid-2012 as planned (with disbursement of funds continuing until 2017).

Contribution to Romania and Bulgaria
In preparation of extending the Swiss Enlargement Contribution to the benefit of Bulgaria and Romania, an addendum to the agreement (MoU) was signed with the EU in 2008. It is anticipated that the Message on this Enlargement Contribution will be submitted to the Federal Council sometime in the spring. Should Parliament approve the corresponding framework credit in 2009, preparation for the implementation of this Enlargement Contribution will be able to begin in early 2010.