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At the beginning of March, the second chamber of the Swiss Parliament, the Council of States, finally approved the provisional agreement reached between the European Commission and Switzerland in August last year (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2009). As planned, the Swiss-EU bilateral agreement was in parallel officially signed by the Federal Councilor Didier Burkhalter, Ms Androulla Vassiliou, the EU Commissioner for Culture, Education, Multiligualism and Youth, and Mr Ángel Gabilondo Pujol, Spanish Minister of Education and representative of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The bilateral agreement enables Switzerland to officially take part (as of the academic year 2011/12) in the EU education, training and youth programmes, namely the Lifelong Learning Programme and Youth in Action. As announced, the foundation “ch Stiftung für eidgenössische Zusammenarbeit” will be the agency assigned with implementing the EU programmes in Switzerland. Work on the creation of this new agency can advance now, as the federal parliament also approved the necessary funding with the endorsement of the agreement.
In order to secure fully-fledged participation of Switzerland for the period 2011-2013 in the EU’s Youth in Action and Lifelong Learning Programmes, the Swiss-EU bilateral agreement provides for a total Swiss contribution of EUR 50.1 million (around CHF 75 million).European Commission