Bulgaria, Switzerland Shake Hands on Cooperation Agreement Worth CHF 76 M

Diplomacy | January 20, 2015, Tuesday // 13:24|  views

Swiss Ambassador to Bulgaria Denis Knobel (L) and Deputy PM Tomislav Donchev (R) gave a press conference on the cooperation agreement on Tuesday. Photo by BGNES

A program worth CHF 76 M (EUR 75 M) has been agreed between Bulgaria and Switzerland, according to Tomislav Donchev, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister in charge of EU funds and economic policy.

Donchev made clear Tuesday that the Bulgarian-Swiss cooperation agreement was yet to be finalized.

He told journalists that the agreement was not limited to the transfer of money but also included exchange of experience and creating long-term preconditions for partnership between institutions.

Donchev presented a number of projects under the program, including one envisaging environmentally-friendly disposal of obsolete pesticides and other crop protection products, one focusing on research and development of pilot models for environmentally-friendly collection and temporary storage of hazardous household waste, one for the delivery of up to 28 fully renovated trams from Basel to Sofia, and one aimed at boosting the so-called green public procurement, “a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle”.

“We would like to contribute to prosperity in Bulgaria and to express solidarity with our Bulgarian friends,” said Swiss Ambassador to Bulgaria Denis Knobel, as cited by the BGNES news agency.

“Through this contribution we would like to actively participate in the cohesion policies of the new EU Member States,” he said.

The Swiss Ambassador to Bulgaria pointed out that the aid supplied by his country was smaller than that provided by the EU, yet it was more flexible.

He presented the distribution of the funding provided under the program by goals, with 48% of the total earmarked for environmental protection, 17% for improving social security, 12% for encouraging economic growth and improving working conditions, 11% for strengthening civil society, 10% for improving public safety and security, and 2% for the preparation of projects and technical assistance.

On a similar note, Hugo Bruggmann, Head of the Enlargement Contribution/Cohesion Section at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, suggested that the Swiss contribution to Bulgaria amounted to a mere 0.5% of the EU funding granted to the country, adding that the allocation of the Swiss resources was based on a different approach built on partnership and close cooperation.

Stressing the importance of monitoring of the implementation of the different projects, he assured that all of the schemes would be assessed upon their completion.

Bruggmann said that the ongoing 5-year period of cooperation ended in December 2015 and the new 5-year period was to be launched then, adding that the projects on which the two sides had already reached agreement, such as infrastructure projects, could be opened immediately.

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Tags: Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister, Swiss Ambassador, EU funds, co-operation, EU member states, cohesion


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