NGO fund in eleven EU member states
The Swiss enlargement contribution finances a support fund for non-governmental organisations (NGO fund) in all partner countries except Malta. The purpose of these funds is to promote and strengthen the participation of civil society in the socioeconomic development of the respective countries. The total contribution to all NGO funds amounts to around CHF 61 million.
In the new member states of the EU, civil society is significantly more developed than it was at the beginning of the 1990s, but it is not yet as well developed as in the older member states. Initially various structures were put in place to meet people's basic needs which had to some extent been neglected by the new democratic governments.
A strong NGO sector is essential for civil society
The funds for non-governmental organisations in all new EU member states except Malta provide essential support for civil society in these countries. This will result in the strengthening of the NGO sector and civil society in the respective countries. In particular, it is often the poorer and socially disadvantaged sections of the population who benefit from a well-developed range of services provided by NGOs.
As at mid-2012, the NGO fund is in the implementation phase in most countries, with initial projects having been selected and the organisations involved beginning to roll them out. In some countries, such as the Baltic states, all funds have already been allocated to projects.
NGOs – indispensable players
By formulating concepts and taking action (in relation to vulnerable groups, minorities, the environment and culture), civil society strengthens the democratisation process. It also helps make government agencies more efficient by ensuring that they take better account of the concerns of the population. This applies both to specific action taken at a local level as well as to advocacy at the regional and national level. NGOs thus often deal with a wide variety of issues in daily life.
The NGO funds will be used in particular to support social welfare and environmental projects. More than half the approved projects will come under one of these two headings. Switzerland will however also fund projects in other areas, for instance the increased involvement of citizens in political decision-making processes and cooperation between NGOs and local government.
Swiss organisations offer valuable experience
Involving Swiss partners in projects enables NGOs to benefit from Swiss expertise. Overall, just under twenty percent of the projects will be implemented with Swiss involvement. Swiss expertise and experience is extremely valuable on a number of fronts for NGOs in partner countries who are often working in a new environment and therefore lack experience. For instance, Swiss NGOs can help their partners cooperate with the government, encourage young volunteers, or even help with bookkeeping. Swiss know-how enables organisations in the partner countries to implement efficient and effective projects directly, while making optimum use of their financial and human resources.
Targeted support for civil society is also in Switzerland's interests
Thanks to partnerships with organisations in the partner countries, Swiss organisations are also able to extend their networks and expertise. The mechanisms of the NGO funds favour these partnerships. Moreover, Switzerland also benefits from the activities of NGOs, as many aspects such as economic exchange, migration and environmental protection are interrelated and are of international, even global relevance in some cases.
Projects will be submitted to the national institution nominated to manage the fund. Several thousand project proposals are expected, so a broad-based selection committee in the respective country will decide which projects will be financed.
The NGO funds set up as part of the Swiss enlargement contribution
The project in brief
Supporting civil society
Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Cyprus
Swiss NGOs (in particular associations, federations and foundations)
Starting Point / Background information
Non-governmental organisations play an important role in civil society. They perform work and deliver services for citizens that are not, or only inadequately, provided by governments or private companies. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, the NGO sector has been continuously expanding in the new EU member states. However, in comparison with the old member states, the NGO sector in the new EU countries continues to be relatively small.
Strengthening civil society
Co-financing around 700 projects
Partnership with Swiss NGO in approximately one out of five projects
Partnered exchange of expertise in the particular project area
Fact-finding visits to project partners
Joint evaluation and drafting of reports
Creating long-term international relationships in the project area
Direct: NGOs in the respective countries
Indirect: Civil society
Amount of Swiss contribution: CHF 61.2 million
Amount of funds by country:
Bulgaria: CHF 3 million
Estonia: CHF 2.5 million
Latvia: CHF 3.5 million
Lithuania: CHF 5.6 million
Poland: CHF 24.7 million
Romania: CHF 5 million
Slovakia: CHF 3 million
Slovenia: CHF 2.1 million
Czech Republic: CHF 6.6 million
Hungary: CHF 5 million
Cyprus: CHF 0.2 million
Responsibility for Project Implementation
Non-governmental organisations in the new EU member states, in some cases in cooperation with a Swiss partner
2009 – 2015
Different durations in each country