On 13 April, the Federal Council submitted the Dispatch on Switzerland's access to six European research infrastructure networks to Parliament. Access to these networks will enable Swiss researchers to participate actively and on an equal footing.
Switzerland participates as an observer in eight research infrastructure networks with the legal form European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) defined by the EU. In total, there are 22 ERIC networks and research infrastructures, which facilitate cooperation between researchers in areas that are of particular importance to society, such as the environmental sciences or the life sciences. They also help to improve the comparability and availability of data.
With only observer status in these networks, it is not possible for researchers from Swiss universities and research institutions to exploit the full potential of international cooperation. The Federal Council is therefore seeking membership in the following six networks, all of which address important current challenges:
- Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure
- Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives
- Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities
- European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network
- European Plate Observing System
- Integrated Carbon Observation System
In adopting the 2021-2024 ERI Dispatch, Parliament has already approved the necessary financial resources, regardless of whether Switzerland participates as an observer or as a member in these consortiums. The membership fees per network are between CHF 50,000 and CHF 150,000 per year.
In order to simplify the process for Switzerland to access ERIC research infrastructure networks going forward, the Federal Council has also proposed an amendment to the Federal Act on the Promotion of Research and Innovation (RIPA). This would give the Federal Council powers to decide on joining ERIC research infrastructures, as is the case with regard to international research infrastructures with different legal forms.