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Aid accords signed for Bulgaria and Romania

The representatives of Bulgaria and Romania between two Swiss cabinet ministers during the signing ceremony Keystone

The Swiss government and representatives of Bulgaria and Romania have signed framework accords for projects for the latest two European Union member states.

The funds, worth a total of SFr257 million ($254 million) over ten years, will go towards efforts to reduce social and economic disparities in the EU.

The first projects in areas including security, infrastructure, integration and research, will likely be selected and implement by the end of the year, according to the economics ministry.

Measures to fight abuses and corruption will be part of the programme, the statement added.

Taking part in the official signing ceremony on Tuesday in Bern were Swiss economics and foreign ministers, Doris Leuthard and Micheline Calmy-Rey, respectively, as well as the Romanian foreign minister, Teodor Baconschi, and Bulgaria’s minister for EU funds management, Tomislav Donchev.

Parliament had approved the funds in December 2009.

Although not being a member of the EU, Switzerland has also contributed SFr1 billion for ten other mainly eastern European countries.

Johannes Hahn, EU commissioner for regional policy, welcomed the latest Swiss contribution, saying it is in the general interest to boost the standard of living across Europe.

Urs Geiser, and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR