State Secretary Hirayama at an informal EU ministerial meeting on research and innovation

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On 2 and 3 April State Secretary Martina Hirayama, Director of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, will be attending an informal meeting in Bucharest (Romania) of ministers of EU member states responsible for research and innovation. At this event, which takes place twice yearly, ministers will discuss how the EU can promote excellence and at the same time encourage broad participation in research and innovation.

The multi-year framework programmes for research and innovation (FPs) are the European Union’s main instrument for implementing its joint science and innovation policy. Researchers from one or more countries usually draw up project proposals in response to specific calls, and these proposals are then evaluated by panels of independent experts. Countries thus receive EU research funding on a competitive basis; the criterion is the excellence of the project proposals and there are no country quotas.

The aim of Romania, which currently holds the presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, is to reduce disparities in research and innovation activities between the EU member states and so strengthen research in Europe. With a view to the next programme generation, Horizon Europe (2021-2027), the informal discussions in Bucharest will focus in particular on ways of encouraging countries with weaker innovation systems and those with less experience to take part in the FPs. Switzerland hopes to contribute to the debate by presenting its experience with its own national funding instruments, which promote similar aims.

Switzerland has been fully associated to the eighth European Framework Programme Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) since 2017. Project proposals from Switzerland have a high rate of success. The next programme generation, Horizon Europe, is currently being prepared. The EU institutions involved are currently negotiating the legal basis and the final design of the programme.

Switzerland has a long tradition of fruitful cooperation in research and innovation with the European Union. Switzerland participates in the EU research programmes under the 2002 Bilateral I Agreements between Switzerland and the EU. Switzerland therefore expects to take part in Horizon Europe as well and is taking the necessary steps to do so.