Wed 05 Mar 2008 - Elena Koinova
The Swiss government gave its approval on March 5 to a 257 million Swiss francs aid package for Bulgaria and Romania, Bulgarian news agency (BTA) reported.
The sum is the equivalent of 318.1 million leva and would be disbursed over the next 10 years after it is approved by the Swiss parliament.
The money for European Union's two newest member states will not come from the country's development funds, but directly from the Swiss budget, according to a joint statement of the foreign and economy federal departments, quoted by BTA.
The two states will receive 26 million Swiss francs a year, which is on a par with the annual grants the Swiss government gave out prior to 2007, when Bulgaria and Romania were still EU candidate countries.
Although the Swiss government was expected to halt its grants after they joined the EU, the bloc called on Switzerland to continue its grant programmes for the newcomers.
At a November 2006 referendum, Swiss citizens decided to step up cooperation with the EU and approved the disbursal of one billion Swiss francs,or 630 million euro, in aid for EU new member states.