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Swiss government puts up €370m for Horizon Europe projects

Collection of the new Swiss banknotes (issued in 2017)

Country subsidises researchers’ EU work amid ongoing block on full participation in scheme

Switzerland is putting up 400 million Swiss francs so its researchers can take part in the EU’s Horizon Europe programme while they remain locked out of full access to the R&D scheme and its funding.

Switzerland was previously an ‘associate country’ to the EU’s huge research programmes. But it is currently excluded from this full membership status as a result of an ongoing stalemate between Swiss leaders and the European Commission, which recently rejected the possibility that negotiations could reopen for the country to associate to Horizon Europe.

This means Switzerland is deemed a non-associated “third country”, and while its researchers can participate in roughly two-thirds of the programme they cannot receive any EU funding.

Government considering ‘replacement measures’

In an announcement on 20 October, the Swiss Federal Council confirmed it will begin financing individual participants directly in place of Horizon Europe grants, meaning that Swiss researchers can take part in projects without having to plug the gap in funding themselves.

The council said it hoped that subsidising researchers to take part in Horizon Europe as a third country would help to “strengthen Switzerland’s long-term standing as a location for research and innovation”.

Funding of around SFr400m (€374m) will be made available for project participants in Switzerland this year. The government also reiterated that it is looking into “possible complementary and replacement measures” to subsidise researchers in place of Horizon Europe membership.

The announcement follows a statement by the European Commission on 1 October that a move by Switzerland to submit overdue contributions to the EU budget was not enough to restart negotiations on the country’s access to EU research funding and other programmes. 

In May the Swiss government abandoned talks on an overarching relationship agreement with the EU, citing “substantial differences” on areas including citizens’ rights and state aid.

A version of this article also appeared in Research Europe