The European Commission and Switzerland signed a bilateral agreement on 27 February 2006 on the Swiss Contribution established by the Swiss government. In accordance with the Agreement, Switzerland shall ensure one-off non-reimbursable support of a total of 1 billion CHF over a 5-year period for the ten new Member States. Hungary received a funding of more than 130 million Swiss Francs under the programme, which is equal to approximately 31 billion Hungarian Forints at the current exchange rate; this amount puts Hungary to the third place in the ranking of the supported countries.
The bilateral agreement defines the cooperation frameworks established between Switzerland and the Member States eligible to receive a share of the funding, pursuant to which bilateral negotiations – which began in January 2007 between Switzerland and Hungary - with specific Member States aimed at defining the frameworks for the receipt of funding, areas eligible for support, as well as the tendering system were launched. In accordance with the bilateral agreement, the Swiss Contribution will grant funding in the following four priority areas:
1. Security, stability, reform
2. Environmental protection and infrastructure
3. Support of the private sector
4. Human resource and social development
Specific areas of support within the above priority areas are defined in the Framework Agreement.
Government Decree 2032/2007 (III.7) ‘on the areas and negotiation guidelines of the programme “Swiss Contribution”’ was drafted with the aim of establishing the Hungarian legislative framework. In accordance with the Decree, the National Development Agency was designated with the task of implementing coordination in connection with the Swiss Contribution programme. Moreover, the National Development Agency was also authorised to set up the implementation framework of the Swiss Contribution programme during the course of 2007, which, having closed negotiations, was finalised within the scope of the Framework Agreement.
The donor country assessed and set up frameworks in other Member States as well. These frameworks are designed to manage the implementation of the programme in specific beneficiary Member States in a coherent manner. Having closed negotiations and granted authorisation to the Hungarian government, the Framework Agreement (declared by 348/2007. (XII. 20.)) was signed between Switzerland and Hungary on 20 December 2007 in Bern. The Hungarian regulatory framework was established and was issued in a governmental decree (237/200. (IX. 26.)) The first series of calls for applications were announced in July 2008.
The tendering process started in 2008 and the selection period ended in spring 2012. The calls were announced on the NDA’s website at different times by each focus area. Hungary was responsible for the selection of projects, which could be performed through an open call (as a main rule, two loop approach was used), but recommendation of the donor country or other international organization or Hungarian stakeholders (Government, NDA) might also serve as a basis for project selection. The final decision was made by Switzerland for all projects.
Due to the contribution, almost forty projects and, through the block grants, more than a hundred small projects will be implemented, all of which Hungary can rightfully be proud of.
For more information on the Swiss-Hungarian Co-operation Programme and the approved projects click here.