EU Funds Management Minister Tomislav Donchev and Ambassador Beatrice Maser Mallor, Head of the Economic Development and Cooperation Division at the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, signed an Agreement on the Project Preparation Fund, the Government Information Service said in a press release Tuesday. This is the first bilateral agreement implementing the Swiss-Bulgarian Cooperation Programme, by which Switzerland grants Bulgaria a non-reimbursable contribution of 76 million Swiss francs, or 105,848,240 leva, for a disbursement period of up to ten years. The Programme covers projects in four priority areas:
• “Security, Stability and Reform Support”
• “Environment and Infrastructure”
• “Promotion of Private Enterprise”
• “Development of Human Resources and of Social Activities”.
Donchev said that Bulgaria regards the Swiss financial support as “value added” to the EU Cohesion Policy, as well as an opportunity to invest in bilateral relations: both economic relations and relations between public institutions and NGOs.
“The contribution Bulgaria receives from Switzerland and its priority area largely overlaps with the Government’s priorities,” Donchev said.
Swiss Ambassador in Sofia Regina Escher said that the Programme is intended to promote Bulgaria’s social and economic development. “We want to see tangible results for Bulgarian citizens, so that they can feel that the P r o g r a m m e works,” Escher added. “Compared to the EU funds, the Programme will probably be small, but we want it to be of high quality and of an expanding effect.” The Programme is implemented through projects and Thematic Funds and is managed by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.