The relations of the EU with Switzerland are of special significance. Switzerland being at the heart of Europe, is very close to the Union, not only geographically, but also economically and culturally. Hence, the support of the Swiss Confederation to the efforts for safeguarding stability and prosperity in the enlarged European Union, is of primary importance. To this end, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of the European Union and the Swiss Federal Council setting the guidelines of the Swiss Contribution was signed in March 2006. The main beneficiaries of the Swiss Contribution are the ten member states that joined the EU on the 1st of May 2004, as well as Romania and Bulgaria.
Four thematic areas for funding by the Swiss Contribution are defined, namely security, stability and support for reforms, environment and infrastructure, promotion of the private sector, and human and social development.
The federal offices responsible for the coordination of Switzerland’s Contribution to the EU are the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The implementation of the various projects is based on a close cooperation between Switzerland and the partner countries. In each partner country a National Coordination Unit (NCU) is established, which is responsible for the identification, selection, planning, implementation, financial management, controlling and evaluation of projects and programmes, as well as for the appropriate use of funds. The National Coordination Unit in Cyprus is the Directorate General of the European Programmes, Coordination and Development.
For more information visit the website of the SDC.
Swiss Contribution and Cyprus
Under the Swiss Contribution, an amount of CHF 5.988.000 (swiss francs) was made available by Switzerland to Cyprus under the “Framework Agreement between the Swiss Federal Council and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus Concerning the Implementation of the Cooperation Programme Between Switzerland and Cyprus”, signed on 20 December 2007. In line with the Agreement, the commitment period expired on 14 June 2012 and the amounts of the Swiss Contribution have been fully committed. The disbursement period will end on 14 June 2017.
The objectives of the Cooperation Programme between Switzerland and Cyprus are to contribute to the reduction of economic and social disparities between Cyprus and the more advanced countries of the European Union (EU) and to contribute within Cyprus to sustainable environmental and social development.
The focus areas are: Environment and Infrastructure, Human and Social Development, Unallocated Envelope (primarily for projects that will benefit both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities with a view to encouraging bi-communal contacts among NGOs and serving the overall objectives of reunification).
The funds of the Swiss Contribution have been fully committed for three projects:
· “Revitalising the buffer zone: An Educational Centre and Home for Cooperation”. The objective of this project was to restore a building of significant historical architectural importance in the buffer zone and to establish its functionality as a multi communal educational centre. The project was implemented by the NGO “Association for Historical Dialogue & Research”, while the centre started to operate successfully in May 2011. Main beneficiaries: teachers, students, parents, the NGOs and the Cypriot Society as a whole.
· “Treatment Plant for Domestic Septage and Industrial Waste in Vati Limassol”. The implementation of the project began in 2012 by the Water Development Department and is expected to be completed by June 2017. The main beneficiary of the project is the Water Development Department, as well as other Public Agencies, Local Authorities, the inhabitants of the area and the small industries to be serviced by the Treatment Plant.
· “Modernization of the Technical Vocational Training of the Cyprus Productivity Centre”. The project involves modernization of the Technical Vocational Training of the Cyprus Productivity Centre (Implementing Body) by acquiring state of the art training equipment and developing the technical vocational training capacity with focus on energy conservation and the use of alternative sources of energy. The project is under way and is expected to be finalized by October 2016. The main beneficiaries of the project are young people that need intensive training in order to be able to enter the labour market, persons belonging to groups at risk of social exclusion, as well as professionals who seek training for upgrading their knowledge and skills.
Renewal of Swiss Contribution
As far as the renewal of the current Swiss Contribution is concerned, there is no decision yet on the part of the Swiss Confederation as to its extension/renewal beyond 2017. However, the Federal Council adopted on 18 December 2013 the mandate for negotiations between Switzerland and the European Union on institutional issues. In light of progress in all the negotiations, the Federal Council will decide on any renewal of the enlargement contribution to the reduction of economic and social disparities within the EU.