EU enlargement in Eastern Europe

Two elderly Bulgarian women with a goat
With the enlargement of the European Union in Eastern Europe, economic and social disparities within the EU widened significantly. © SDC

Enlargement towards the east has presented the EU with new challenges. Although the new EU member states are catching up, significant disparities in these countries’ development remain. For the EU, strengthening economic and social cohesion is a key concern. Switzerland is helping to overcome these challenges by making its own independent contribution.

On 1 May 2004, the following ten states – the EU-10 – joined the European Union:  Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Three years later, on 1 January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania joined. And, on 1 July 2013, Croatia became the 28th member of the EU. This eastward enlargement has presented the EU with major challenges as the economic and social disparities within the union become even more pronounced with the accession of these poorer states.

The Swiss contribution in brief

Since 2007, Switzerland has been participating in various projects designed to reduce the economic and social disparities in an enlarged EU, with CHF 1.302 billion

Economic and social imbalances within the EU

Although the new EU member states are catching up, significant economic and social disparities remain. Average per capita income in these countries is still clearly below that of the other member states.

EU cohesion policy and EEA funding mechanism

The resources of the EU earmarked for its regional and cohesion policies for 2014–20 amount to more than EUR 350 billion. The three EFTA/EEA states Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are contributing approximately EUR 2.8 billion for the period 2014-21.

Swiss interests

The Swiss contribution is an integral part of Swiss foreign policy on Europe which aims to consolidate Switzerland’s relations with the EU and its member states