The non-reimbursable finance programme for Romania has been approved by the Swiss Parliament in December 2009, but the two Governments are expected to sign the Memorandum only in July. The funds will go to local authorities, to be used for infrastructure, social projects, environment and a special fund for NGOs. New Member States department from the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency chief Ulrich Sturzinger told that the Programme's Coordination Unit will be with the Romanian Public Finance Ministry and that the Funds can be received until December 2014.

Sturzinger also explained during a press briefing organised by Forum Ost-West that the programme represents a Swiss contribution to the EU expansion and, not the least, a way to lobby for the Swiss companies that activate on the markets of these emergent states.

For Romania and Bulgaria, the last two countries to be granted EU accession, the Swiss Parliament approved a fixed finance of 257 million Swiss francs. The money will be shared between several priorities, like infrastructure, environment, social projects etc. Only after the bi-lateral treaty is signed but the two Governments are the finance details to be decided.

In principle, the calls for projects are open for three months, for the entire sum allocated to each department. "During this period, the projects submitted cover 10 times the allocated sum", Sturzinger told Their evaluation is next.

How did the EU 10 states do up till now

The states that joined the EU in 2004 (EU 10) were allocated funds worth 1 billion Swiss francs through similar programmes. The programmes stared out in 2007. So far, 53 projects have been approved. Sturzinger explained for that the rate of fund collection has so far been 35%. This is because it takes quite a while to set up the national coordination points, guides, launching calls for projects and selecting them.

As for the payments, they represent 10% les than the contracted sums and this is because, in most cases, authorities need to launch public acquisition procedures for some projects.

In regards to the NGOs funds, distinct programme features of the programme, have been initiated with a greater difficulty. A special institutional management at a national level is needed, Strurzinger said. Practically, they have not started in many states. He added that the countries with the best results so far have been Malta, Cypress and Latvia, "and we would be glad if better performance was achieved in The Czech republic, Slovakia and Hungary".

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