Brussels, 10 November 2008
Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for regional policy, is today in Berne and Lucerne to take part in a series of meetings on relations between Switzerland and the EU, and on Swiss participation in EU Regional Policy cooperation programmes in particular. Switzerland's New Regional Policy (NRP) is closely aligned with the aims of the EU's Regional Policy and EU's Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, with its support for innovation, small businesses, training, knowledge transfer and for less favoured regions such as mountainous and rural areas.
"With its involvement over many years in hundreds of cooperation projects, Switzerland is a highly valued partner for the European Union, and I am pleased that Swiss partners are continuing their active involvement in the European territorial cooperation programmes for 2007-2013. We want to strengthen this cooperation and we hope that Swiss federal authorities will join the EU by investing more in cross-border programmes," said Commissioner Hübner ahead of her visit.
Commissioner Hübner will spend the initial part of her visit in Berne where she will meet Doris Leuthard, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, who is also in charge of regional policy. Commissioner Hübner will then visit the new “House of the Cantons” for talks with a delegation of the Conference of Cantonal Governments. The discussions at both meetings will focus on Switzerland's New Regional Policy, the role of the cantons in cross-border cooperation with EU regions, and other issues such as the Swiss enlargement contribution to new Member States. In the evening Commissioner Hübner will give a speech at the "Europa Forum Luzern", centred on the EU in the 21st century, and meet the Swiss Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheline Calmy-Rey.
Switzerland and EU Cohesion Policy
Switzerland is involved in 10 territorial cooperation programmes with the EU, of which four are cross-border with neighbouring countries, Germany, France, Italy and Austria. The contribution from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) towards cross-border cooperation amounts to €215 million, representing an increase of 120% from 2000-2006. Switzerland is also active in two transnational programmes (Alpine Space and North West Europe) and four groupings under interregional cooperation. The EU wants to broaden the scope of this cooperation to include, for example, the joint management of natural and cultural clusters and shared use of infrastructure in sectors such as health, tourism and education (currently none of these areas fall under the Swiss New Regional Policy).
From 2000 to 2006, Switzerland was involved in around 500 cooperation projects under INTERREG. One such project developed during that time was "PUSEMOR", within the Alpine Space grouping, aimed at developing sustainable and innovative strategies for improving the provision of public services in sparsely populated mountain regions (ERDF contribution: €1.2 million). Currently underway for the new transnational North West Europe (NWE) programme is the Health and Demographic Changes project, with a total budget of €4.4 million (ERDF contribution: €2 million). The goal of this project is to create a transnational centre of excellence specialised in developing innovative and progressive solutions to respond to the repercussions of ageing populations.
More information on European territorial cooperation programmes: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/cooperation/index_en.htm