The implementation of European Union enlargement contribution projects is proceeding satisfactorily, according to an interim assessment.
At the Annual Conference on Swiss Cooperation with Central and Eastern Europe, Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann and Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Polish Minister for Regional Development, together with other speakers from Switzerland and abroad, conducted a review of the progress made on the implementation.
For three years Switzerland has used its enlargement contribution to help reduce the social and economic disparities in the enlarged EU, a government statement said on Friday. SFr1 billion ($1 billion) is being invested to support projects in Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Malta.
By the end of October 2010, 74 project proposals and 84 definitive project applications had been approved. This means that projects with a total value of SFr756 million, comprising 80 per cent of the project budget, have been provisionally accepted or definitively approved.
In his opening address, Schneider-Ammann emphasised that the enlargement contribution was an important instrument both with regard to Switzerland's European policy and its relationships with the new EU member states. EU eastern enlargement promoted precisely those goals of stability and peace in Europe that lay in Switzerland's interest, he said.
At the conference, both the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) provided information about the current status of projects in partner countries. Details of the new enlargement contribution in favour of Bulgaria and Rumania were also presented.
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