North Macedonia

Switzerland’s transition assistance in North Macedonia is based on shared interests in achieving socio-economic development, stability, security and Euro-Atlantic integration. Significant progress has been made since the Republic of North Macedonia gained independence in 1991, but the country still lags behind in some areas of reform, such as decentralisation, rule of law, economic development and public services.

Map of Macedonia
Map of North Macedonia © FDFA

The Republic of North Macedonia is a multi-ethnic state with an estimated population of approximately two million people. Following an early transition to a market economy, North Macedonia achieved visible progress in economic and social development. The country rapidly became a front-runner among the Western Balkan states for Euro-Atlantic integration, but still needs to implement reforms to strengthen democratic governance, to support inclusive economic development and to address critical environment issues.

Democratic governance

In the area of democratic governance, the Swiss Cooperation Programme in North Macedonia seeks to build the democratic capacity of executive and legislative institutions and empower civil society. Switzerland’s support is helping central and local authorities to become more accountable, transparent, and inclusive. Switzerland remains dedicated to encouraging citizen participation in a local and regional decision-making.

State and Economic Reforms

Sustainable economic development

Switzerland’s support in the economic sector aims to improve employment prospects and create sustainable economic growth. It helps job seekers to access the labour market through vocational education and training programmes that are geared to the needs of the market. At the same time, it promotes private sector development, particularly start-ups, in order to create better access to new markets and higher revenue value chains.  Switzerland is also actively involved in efforts to improve employment conditions by encouraging employers to offer decent and inclusive job opportunities.

Private Sector Development and Financial Services

Environment and sustainable public utility services

The country’s natural resources and wealth of biodiversity are considered a major factor in its development. By providing technical assistance and catalytic investment in digital transformation and climate-resilient, low-carbon infrastructure and equipment, Switzerland enables selected municipalities and their public utilities to provide high quality, reliable, efficient public utility services for citizens.

Sustainable public utilities, improved natural resources management and enhanced community resilience to natural disasters will increase the attractiveness and competitiveness of urban and rural areas, and contribute to steady economic growth and enhanced quality of life. 

Water – A Vital Resource Under Threat

Approach and partners

The 2021–24 cooperation programme is implemented jointly by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Switzerland’s cooperation is grounded in formal agreements with the government. It takes part in multi-donor programmes and issues contracts to Macedonian, Swiss and international civil society organisations, consultancies and private sector entities. Particular effort is placed on strengthening country systems and building partnerships with new change actors, e.g. through private sector engagement and funding.

Switzerland’s main partners in North Macedonia:

  • Ministries and local governments
  • National and local parliaments, parliamentary administration
  • Civil society organisations, e.g. the media
  • Private sector
  • Local and international NGOs
  • Bilateral and multilateral donors and organisations, e.g. UNDP and UN Women

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 24

Civil Society Support Facility

01.04.2023 - 31.12.2026

Switzerland renews a multi-year support to strengthen the capacities of civil society organizations in North Macedonia, to improve the inclusiveness of decision-making processes and increase the transparency of state institutions. The final phase (2023-2026) of this project aims to increase citizen support for civil society organizations, to enhance the capabilities of these organizations, and to diversify their funding base. To improve sustainability, the project implementation has been transferred to the national partner organization. 

Promoting Gender Responsive Policies and Budgets

01.04.2023 - 31.03.2026

Switzerland, through a contribution to UN Women for 2023-2026, supports central and local governments of North Macedonia to advance gender equality through gender-responsive legislation and by practicing gendered budgeting processes: citizens, especially women, and civil society organizations will be strengthened to exercise their voice in decision-making through policy dialogue. Oversight institutions will also be capacitated to better monitor the implementation of gender-responsive budgeting processes. 

Education for Employment

01.07.2022 - 30.06.2026

The project addresses the high youth unemployment rate in North Macedonia (33%), caused by the mismatch of the skills provided by the education system and those required by the economy. The project will support the Ministry of Education and Science and the private sector to strengthen the newly established dual school- and company-based vocational education and training system.

Empowering Municipal Councils

01.04.2022 - 31.03.2027

Municipal Councils have, according to the legislation, a very important role to play in local governance. However, councillors often lack the necessary knowledge to fulfil their responsibilities. Through the project, capacities of councillors will be enhanced, citizen participation in decision making promoted and legal framework adjusted, enabling councillors to fulfil their role and to become more independent from the executive branch.

Smart Packaging Waste Management

01.11.2021 - 31.12.2024

The prevalent improper management of waste in North Macedonia is a pressing environmental topic and a top priority of the Government. SDC supports North Macedonia by engaging with the non-profit private sector packaging recovery organization Pakomak to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of the national packaging waste recovery system through the digitalisation of the primary selection and collection process.

Sustainable and Inclusive Balanced Regional Development

01.10.2021 - 30.09.2025

The level of development among the 8 regions in North Macedonia is highly unequal. This misbalance directly affects the wellbeing of citizens living in less developed areas. SDC supports North Macedonia by working on the country system, to improve the national legal framework for planning, monitoring and evaluation of balanced regional development (BRD) ensuring greater allocation of funds for BRD, hence improving the living conditions for all citizens, especially in the underdeveloped regions.

Intelligence and Security Sector Reform

01.04.2021 - 31.03.2026

At the core of this project is to improve the accountability of the state and enhance the division of the executive, legislative and judiciary powers in line with the democratic governance priorities of the Swiss Cooperation Programme in North Macedonia. It focuses on supporting the intelligence and security sector actors to become more transparent and accountable towards parliament, the judiciary and citizens at large, through new and improved existing legal framework, enhanced policy-making and capacity building.

Nature Conservation Programme

01.02.2021 - 30.06.2024

Switzerland supports North Macedonia in sustainable management of natural resources through practical application of conservation measures in the Bregalnica region. In the exit phase, institutions and organizations will be further strengthened for an effective management of protected areas, introduction of payments for ecosystem services and implementation of measures set out in the national strategies. By promoting sustainably produced products and services, economic benefit for the local population will be generated.

Increasing Market Employability

01.08.2019 - 30.06.2024

North Macedonia’s economy is characterised by one of the highest unemployment rate in Europe (21%, for youth 46%) and a high share of people in relative poverty (22%). The Increasing Market Employability programme aims to address these issues by creating jobs and increasing income. It contributes to improvement of the quality of products and services, expansion of markets, and creation of an enabling environment in the Sustainable Agribusiness, Adventure Tourism, and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sectors.

Housing solutions for displaced persons

Apartment building in Serbia

01.03.2019 - 30.06.2024

As a consequence of the war in the 1990s, over three million people were displaced both within and beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. Twenty-five years after the Dayton Accords, the Western Balkans are still host to almost half a million vulnerable persons displaced by conflict in the former Yugoslavia. The Regional Housing Programme (RHP) aims to provide durable housing solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons in need.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Western Balkans
Forced displacement (refugees, IDP, human trafficking)

01.03.2019 - 30.06.2024

CHF  1’555’000

Global Financial Infrastructure Programme, Phase II

01.07.2022 - 30.06.2027

The Global Financial Infrastructure Programme fosters financial inclusion of individuals and responsible access to finance for SMEs through financial infrastructure reforms in SECO and SDC partner countries. It focuses on strengthening credit information systems, secured transaction reforms, as well as insolvency and debt resolution.

Swiss Import Promotion Program (SIPPO) 2021-2025

01.07.2021 - 30.07.2025

The Swiss Import Promotion Program SIPPO 2021-2025 supports Business Support Organisations (BSO), such as trade-related ministries and agencies, private trade promotion service providers, consultants, trade promotion organisations, and industry organisations thereby facilitating access for exporting companies to the Swiss and international markets.

Object 1 – 12 of 24