Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter signs Swiss-EU bilateral agreement

Bern, Press release, 15.02.2010

Today, a new Swiss-EU bilateral agreement was signed by Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, Ms Androulla Vassiliou, the EU Commissioner for Culture, Education, Multiligualism, and Youth and Mr Ángel Gabilondo Pujol, Spanish Minister of Education and representative of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This bilateral agreement will enable Switzerland to officially take part in EU education, training and youth programmes.

It will also serve as an ideal complement to Switzerland’s previous activities in the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area. In December 2009, the National Council approved the draft agreement and the necessary funding. The Council of States is expected to discuss the agreement in the spring session. On his trip to Brussels, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter was accompanied by Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, head of the Canton of Jura’s Department of Education, Culture and Sports, who represented the Conference of Cantonal Governments.

Exchange is the common theme found in the EU’s Youth in Action Programme for extracurricular activities and the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme, both of which run from 2007-2013. The latter programme includes four sub-programmes (e.g. Erasmus), which seek to facilitate the mobility of students for education purposes, cross-border traineeships for students and workers and intercultural experiences through exchange programmes for young people. Important measures also include the sharing of information and expertise to improve VET and CET programmes as well as greater cooperation between schools and companies.

Thanks to the Swiss-EU bilateral agreement, Swiss and EU nationals will have the same legal right to take part in all mobility and cooperation projects carried out within the framework of the Youth in Action Programme and Lifelong Learning Programme. In addition, Swiss organisations will be able to launch and manage individual projects. Finally, Switzerland will be able to play an active role in programme bodies, thereby contributing to strategic planning.

Negotiations for full-fledged participation in the current programme period (2007-2013) began in April 2008. The draft bilateral agreement was initialled in August 2009.

According to the terms of the Swiss-EU bilateral agreement, Switzerland is required to set up an agency to implement the EU programmes in Switzerland. All participating countries have the same requirement. Following a public call for tenders issued by the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER), this mandate was given to the “ch Stiftung für eidgenössische Zusammenarbeit”. Work to create the new agency will begin as soon as both houses of the Federal Parliament have approved the agreement and released the necessary funding.

In order to secure full-fledged participation for the remaining years (2011-2013) of the EU’s Youth in Action Programme and Lifelong Learning Programme, the Swiss-EU bilateral agreement provides for a total Swiss contribution of EUR 50.1 million (around CHF 75 million).


Address for enquiries:

Federal Department of Home Affairs
General Secretariat, Communication Section
Jean-Marc Crevoisier, Head of Section
Tel. +41 79 763 84 10

Nicolas Lüscher
Swiss Mission to the European Union, Brussels
Tel. +32 2 286 13 08


Publisher:

Federal Department of Home Affairs
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research