Programmes/projects in Bulgaria

Logo of the Second Swiss Contribution to Bulgaria
Logo of the Second Swiss Contribution to Bulgaria © SECO

As part of the second Swiss Contribution to selected EU member states, the Swiss-Bulgarian Cooperation Programme (SBCP) contributes to the strategic reforms undertaken by Bulgaria, it aims at improving the lives of its people, and will strengthen existing and create new Swiss-Bulgarian partnerships between public institutions and private organisations at all levels. The SBCP targets areas where there are recognised needs of Bulgaria as well as opportunities for Switzerland to add value with its expertise and experience.

The Framework Agreement signed between the Swiss Federal Council and the Government of Bulgarian in September 2022 foresees 11 separate Programmes for:

  • promoting economic growth and social dialogue, reducing (youth) unemployment;
  • managing migration and supporting integration. Increasing public safety and security;
  • protecting the environment and the climate;
  • strengthening of social systems;
  • civil engagement and transparency.  

This second Swiss Contribution to Bulgaria amounts to 92.5 million Swiss francs, and all projects and initiatives have to be implemented until the end of 2029.

Scientific cooperation and exchange

The Swiss-Bulgarian Research Programme is the first Programme to have started implementation, on August 1, 2023, and promotes scientific cooperation and exchange between Bulgarian and Swiss researchers, connect research institutions internationally and encourage the attraction of promising young talents to Bulgaria.

The Programme, through three separate funding instruments, provides grants to researchers and research institutions from all disciplines for multilateral joint projects, visits to Swiss research institutions and support for young scholars. It is expected that more than 40 different research projects will to be supported under the three components of the programme.

The overall budget of the Programme is nearly 12 million Swiss francs, with a Swiss contribution of 85% (10 million Swiss francs). The programme is implemented by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Science Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Science.

Civic Engagement and Transparency Facility 

The Swiss-Bulgarian Civic Engagement and Transparency Facility (CETF) demonstrates Switzerland’s commitment in fostering civic engagement in Bulgaria. The purpose of the programme is to strengthen democratic structures and processes through civic engagement in order to reduce economic and social disparities. This can be achieved through empowerment and strengthening the role and capacity of grassroots organisations, coalitions and initiatives to effectively engage with key stakeholders: through their participation in civic initiatives, capacity building, awareness raising and coalition building activities. Civil Society Organisations and initiatives will strengthen ties among themselves, including aiming to develop shared strategies and visions to increase their leverage and will participate in the decision-making process at national and local level.

The CETF will include three components namely: a) two to three light house projects, b) a grants fund and c) advocacy support and capacity building. The CETF shall focus on thematic areas particularly relevant for and/or effective in strengthening civic engagement and transparency in Bulgaria. These areas may include, but are not limited to, the management of natural resources and biodiversity, media quality and transparency, participation & good governance, or civic education.

The lighthouse projects will aim at reaching impact at national level. Only experienced and prominent CSOs and/or consortia with demonstrated track record in the respective area will be considered for this component.

The Grants Fund will foster and support grass-root civic engagement. This shall be achieved primarily through calls for grants to CSOs with limited capacities and experience in project implementation in less developed regions.

The capacity building component will contribute to the organisational development of CSOs and to the consolidation of civil society in Bulgaria. This component may include but not be limited to training, coaching, consultancy and networking services. A call for a Programme Operator of the Civic Engagement and Transparency Facility will be published in Autumn 2023. Applying organisation(s) must be locally registered, and have proven track record in the regranting of funds. Applications from consortiums with a Bulgarian organisation as a leading entity will also be considered.