All implementation agreements signed, first projects launched

Article, 19.09.2023

Switzerland and Slovakia have signed the bilateral agreement on 19 September 2023 on the implementation of the second Swiss contribution to selected EU member states. Switzerland has thus signed the bilateral implementation agreements for the cohesion part with all partner countries of the second Swiss contribution. The implementation phase now follows.

State Secretary Helene Budliger Artieda and Slovak State Secretary Barbora Lukáčová sign the last implementation agreement from the Cohesion part.
State Secretary Helene Budliger Artieda and Slovak State Secretary Barbora Lukáčová sign the last implementation agreement from the Cohesion part. © SDC/SECO

State Secretary and Director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Helene Budliger Artieda, and the Slovak State Secretary of the Ministry of Investment, Regional Development and Digitalisation, Barbora Lukáčová, signed the last remaining bilateral cohesion agreement of the second Swiss contribution in Bratislava. The necessary basis now exists with all 13 EU partner states to develop the agreed programmes in detail and implement them by the end of 2029.

The second Swiss contribution is an investment in security, stability and prosperity in Europe. It aims to strengthen cohesion, reduce economic and social disparities and support countries under migratory pressure. The programmes are implemented by SECO, the SDC and SEM. Through this second contribution, Switzerland can enhance bilateral relations not only with the individual partner countries, but with the EU as a whole.

Local news, 21.08.2023

In 2023, Italy has been facing a high number of disembarkations. In order to facilitate communication between migrants, police and migration authorities, Italy works together with cultural mediators. Switzerland finances the deployment of cultural mediators with the Rapid Response Fund of the Second Swiss Contribution.

A cultural mediator from IOM is in conversation with a migrant to support him. Other migrants can be seen in the background.
Cultural mediator assisting migrants. © IOM

Migration situation in Italy

In 2023, the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea and arriving in Italy has increased, mainly through the Central Mediterranean route (Tunisia, Libya). Other arrivals have been recorded also through the Eastern Mediterranean route (Türkiye) and the Balkan route (Slovenia). Between January and July 2023, more than 89'000 people arrived in Italy over sea. This represents an increase of 115 % compared with the same period last year. 12 % of all persons arriving are unaccompanied children.

Law enforcement staff at borders needs qualified supporting teams that are able to quickly communicate with migrants and inform them about procedures, while ensuring that migrants’ rights and protection needs are respected and taken into consideration. Over the past years, the presence of qualified staff from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has contributed to the good border management and fostered dialogue both with migrants and neighbouring authorities in the daily case management.

Project objectives

The project aims to improve and speed up identification and asylum procedures in Italy as well as to ensure that migrants receive appropriate treatment, giving special attention to vulnerable persons such as unaccompanied minors and victims of trafficking.

Project description

Country / Region Topic Period Budget
Italy Immediate support to identification and registration of migrants, including asylum-seekers at border police and immigration offices. 01.08.2023 – 30.11.2023 CHF 727 000
Project description

Project activities

56 cultural mediators are deployed in different regions of Italy, in locations with particularly high number of arrivals. They facilitate communication between authorities and migrants during identification and registration procedures that follow the emergency disembarkation events at Southern maritime disembarkation points, at the entry points across land borders in the Northern Regions as well as the asylum claims processed in the local police offices. Vulnerable migrants identified at the entry points will be properly assisted by the cultural mediators and referred to either the immigration office or the local referral system (social services, anti-trafficking network, reception centres for unaccompanied minors, shelters, etc.) to ensure adequate follow-up and protection.