Switzerland has supported the political, economic and social transition in Eastern Europe and in countries of the former Soviet Union since the start of the 1990s. The 2006 Federal Act on Cooperation with the States of Eastern Europe forms the legal framework for this. At the same time, this Federal Act also serves as the legal basis for Switzerland's contribution to reducing economic and social disparities in the enlarged European Union (EU). The Federal Act is valid until 31 May 2017. In order to continue the cooperation with the states of Eastern Europe without interruption, the Federal Act is expected to be extended until 2024. No financial contributions will be decided with the prolongation of the legal framework.
Switzerland wishes to continue to support the process of transition
The transition to free, democratic and pluralistic states, to free, open market economies, and the social and environmental sustainable changes associated with this are some of Switzerland's overarching objectives and interests in its cooperation with the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Switzerland has supported the current transition process since 1989 with five successive framework credits amounting to a total of CHF 5.595 billion. This aims to contribute to strengthening stability and peace in Europe, creating positive development prospects for the countries involved in the transition cooperation and consolidating the environment for trade and investments. In this respect, the renewed legal basis will create the foundation for the next framework credit which should be decided in the scope of the 2017-2020 Federal Council Dispatch on Switzerland's international cooperation.
Enlargement contribution retains legal basis
The Federal Council requests that the Eastern Europe Cooperation Act be continued without any change to its content. The legal basis for Switzerland's contribution to reducing economic and social disparities in the enlarged European Union (enlargement contribution) should also thus be maintained. The issue of a further financial contribution to the new EU member states is not anticipated. It is clear for the Federal Council that a decision about a possible renewal of the autonomous enlargement contribution can only be made based on the future development of overall relations between Switzerland and the EU. The course of current negotiations within the framework of the consolidation and renewal of the bilateral approach desired by the Federal Council as well as the question of finding a solution to the issue of the free movement of persons are of crucial importance here. The continuation of the Eastern Europe Cooperation Act without any change to the content allows the Federal Council and Parliament the opportunity to allow any decision on the renewal of the enlargement contribution to depend on the course of the negotiations and the prospects of Switzerland's overall relations with the EU.
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