State Secretary Martina Hirayama attended the Science Europe High-Level Workshop in Luxembourg on 24 November 2021. This annual workshop, organised by Science Europe, the association of major research funding organisations, was attended by ministers for research and innovation, as well as high-level representatives from the European Commission and research funding organisations in Europe. The discussion at the event focused on creating a more sustainable research culture in the European Research Area. Through its participation and input, Switzerland underlined its active contribution to a strong European Research Area (ERA). At the event Ms Hirayama held bilateral talks with Claude Meisch, Luxembourg's minister for education, for children and youth and for higher education and research.
The ministerial participants in the workshop discussed the research culture in the European Research Area primarily from the perspective of joint cooperation between national governments, EU institutes and research organisations. They addressed the issue of how to improve the conditions and evaluations of high-quality research in national systems and throughout Europe by means other than assessments based solely on publication and citation metrics.
State Secretary Martina Hirayama stressed the need for greater dialogue at all levels of research and innovation in the ERA in order to jointly promote a sustainable research culture. In this context, she mentioned Swiss initiatives aimed at promoting research culture and open science, such as the Swiss National Science Foundation’s national open access strategy and the Swiss National Open Research Data Strategy recently adopted by swissuniversities and its partner organisations.
Besides highlighting these national measures, Martina Hirayama emphasised that there should be more discussion about the scientific evaluation culture in Europe. She explained that a common approach to promoting examples of best practices is necessary, especially with a view to developing an international labour market for researchers. Progress towards a sustainable and effective research and innovation culture therefore requires Europe-wide cooperation, not only in terms of a common value system but also with regard to unrestricted cooperation in the Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation. Ms Hirayama concluded that negotiations on Switzerland’s full association to Horizon Europe should begin as soon as possible in order to facilitate cooperation as much as possible for researchers and innovators throughout Europe.
Switzerland’s status in Horizon Europe Currently and until further notice, Switzerland is treated as a non-associated third country in Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and related programmes and initiatives. Nonetheless, researchers in Switzerland can participate in calls for proposals, albeit to a limited extent, and receive funding directly from the federal government. Switzerland’s full association to Horizon Europe remains the Federal Council’s declared goal.