European policy: Federal Council submits dispatch on approving second Swiss contribution
Bern, 11.08.2021 - The Federal Council's European policy agenda includes approving the second Swiss contribution to selected EU member states with a view to continuing the bilateral approach. At its meeting on 11 August, the Federal Council adopted a dispatch to this effect to be brought before Parliament as soon as possible.
On 3 December 2019, Parliament adopted two federal decrees (cohesion and migration framework credits) authorising the second Swiss contribution to selected EU member states. The authorisation was however subject to the condition that no commitments would be made as long as the EU adopted discriminatory measures against Switzerland. Parliament's condition has so far prevented the contribution from being implemented.
The European policy decisions taken by the Federal Council on 26 May 2021 also addressed the second Swiss contribution. In a letter of the same date, the Federal Council informed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that it would seek parliamentary approval of the second contribution as soon as possible, issuing instructions for the relevant dispatch to be drafted on 4 June 2021.
Today, the Federal Council adopted the dispatch on amending the federal decrees on the second Swiss contribution to selected EU member states, requesting the removal of the parliamentary condition imposed in December 2019 to enable the contribution to be released. The Federal Council also requested that the dispatch be brought before Parliament at the earliest opportunity.
With a swift implementation of the contribution, the Federal Council seeks to inject fresh momentum into Swiss-EU relations following the termination of negotiations on the institutional agreement. It hopes to initiate a process that will facilitate the continuation of the bilateral approach and progress on other EU dossiers. Ultimately, approval of the contribution will also underline Switzerland's commitment to continuing to work with the EU as reliable partner. The Federal Council also remains committed to ensuring that in assessing equivalence the EU does not discriminate against Switzerland or treat it differently from other non-EU countries.
Swift approval of the contribution is also important because the funds of the cohesion framework credit must be pledged within five years, i.e. by 3 December 2024, and because the legal basis for the framework credit will only be in effect until the end of 2024 (Federal Act on Cooperation with the States of Eastern Europe). Experience with Switzerland's first contribution, the enlargement contribution, demonstrated that it takes at least three years to commit funds. The longer it takes for the contribution to be approved, the less time remains to fully commit the funds. A delay would make it much more difficult to implement the contribution in accordance with the proposed benchmarks.
The Federal Council also seeks to enter into a non-legally binding memorandum of understanding with the EU regarding the second Swiss contribution in order to facilitate implementation. The MoU aims to provide a substantive basis for the conclusion of bilateral implementation agreements with the partner states, in which, among other things, the country-specific priorities for the implementation of the contribution are agreed.
The second Swiss contribution aims to leverage Swiss expertise to reduce economic and social disparities and to manage migration better in selected EU member states.
The cohesion framework credit in the amount of CHF 1.047 billion helps to reduce economic and social disparities in the 13 countries that have joined the EU since 2004 (EU-13). The migration framework credit totalling CHF 190 million is earmarked for measures in the area of migration, including in EU countries other than the EU-13. The second Swiss contribution of CHF 1.32 billion over 10 years is comprised of the federal government's own expenditure of CHF 65 million (5%) and the framework credits.
As with the enlargement contribution, this contribution will be channelled into selected projects and programmes in the partner countries and will not be transferred directly into their budgets or to the EU.
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