Consultation on a second Swiss contribution to EU-13 countries

Keywords: Europe

Press Release, The Federal Council, 28.03.2018

At its meeting on 28 March 2018, the Federal Council decided to initiate the consultation procedure on a second Swiss contribution to selected EU member states. With this contribution, Switzerland aims to continue to contribute to the reduction of economic and social disparities in the EU member states. Last year, the Federal Council set two priorities for this contribution: vocational education and training and migration.

In order to ensure its long-term prosperity, Switzerland is interested in a secure, stable and prosperous Europe. That is why since 2007 Switzerland has supported, as part of its contribution to the enlarged EU, over 250 projects in the countries that joined the EU after 2004 (EU-13: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia).

The amount of the second contribution is the same as that of the first contribution: CHF 1302 million, an average of CHF 130 million a year over a ten-year period. CHF 1102 million has been earmarked to strengthen cohesion within the EU-13 countries, in particular in the priority area of vocational education and training. CHF 200 million will be used for migration-related measures, including in EU countries outside the EU-13 which are particularly affected by migration flows. Switzerland wants to use its expertise to help reduce economic and social disparities in the EU member states concerned and within the EU, to improve young people's prospects and to contribute to the management of migration flows. Depending on the partner countries' priorities, the funding can also be used in other areas, such as the environment and climate change, support for civil society, research cooperation, healthcare and social welfare, private sector development and security. The appropriation for the second contribution will be transferred to the 2020–22 budget.

This second Swiss contribution is an investment in security, stability and prosperity and is thus in Switzerland's national interest. The Federal Council has repeatedly emphasised the importance of good cooperation with the EU and its commitment to strengthening bilateral relations. With its second contribution, Switzerland is also strengthening and deepening bilateral relations with its partner countries and the EU as a whole.

This second contribution is independent of and not directly connected to other dossiers, but it is in line with Switzerland's bilateral relations with the EU. On 2 March 2018, the Federal Council defined its negotiating strategy with the EU. Its decision to initiate the consultation procedure is a further step towards the desired goal of concluding the market access and cooperation agreements and clarifying institutional arrangements. Once the consultation procedure is concluded, the Federal Council will analyse its outcome and the status and progress of overall relations between Switzerland and the EU, in particular developments with respect to the EU's recognition of the regulatory equivalence of the Swiss stock exchange. Based on this analysis, the Federal Council will then decide the further course of action.

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