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.