Switzerland will be treated as a non-associated third country in Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and related programmes and initiatives until further notice. Under this status, researchers in Switzerland can still participate in most collaboration projects, but are excluded from individual projects. On 17 September, the Federal Council therefore decided to initiate transitional measures until Switzerland achieves its stated aim of full association.
Under non-associated third country status, researchers and innovators in Switzerland are able to participate in most Horizon Europe collaboration projects. As such, around two-thirds of programmes are accessible, although they will not be funded by the European Commission, but by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
However, participation in individual projects will not be possible. These include the prestigious grants from the European Research Council (ERC), the European Innovation Council (EIC) and certain Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).
Submissions from Switzerland under the first calls of 2021 for ERC (Starting Grants and Consolidator Grants) and EIC (Accelerator) projects are still being evaluated by the European Commission. If the evaluations are favourable, SERI can fund these researchers and businesses directly.
To compensate for the lack of participation in ERC Advanced Grant and MSCA 2021 Postdoctoral Fellowship calls, the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) is charging the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) with the task of implementing transitional solutions. These also apply to ERC Starting Grants and Consolidator Grants for 2022 in the event that Swiss researchers are not entitled to submit project proposals for these calls. The transitional solutions will be based as far as possible on the European calls, but will have their own deadlines for project submissions.
The EAER will launch further transitional measures through Innosuisse, the European Space Agency ESA and other actors.
The planned transitional measures will be submitted to Parliament in the winter session in the form of an addendum to the 2022 budget. Implementation is subject to the requisite parliamentary approval. The Federal Council’s goal remains full association to Horizon Europe at the earliest opportunity. However, the EU views the question of Switzerland’s association to Horizon Europe in the context of overall relations between Switzerland and the EU. Negotiations are not possible at the present time.
The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe, runs from 2021 to 2027. With an overall budget of EUR 95 billion, it is the largest research and innovation funding programme in the world. Together with the temporary economic stimulus package NextGenerationEU, it aims to promote the green and digital transformation across Europe. Switzerland was fully associated to the predecessor programme Horizon 2020 and is seeking the same status for Horizon Europe and its related programmes and activities (Euratom programme, ITER and Digital Europe Programme).
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