The institutional framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU is of central importance for Switzerland as a centre of research, education and innovation. The EU has clearly signalled that it considers progress towards the conclusion of a Framework Agreement to be a prerequisite for Switzerland’s participation in the research and education programmes. The swissuniversities Board calls on the Federal Council to avoid by all means the exclusion of Swiss researchers and students from these research and education programmes and to put relations with the EU on a permanent footing.
A No to the institutional framework agreement would be followed by another period of uncertainty in Switzerland's relations with the EU. A failure of the institutional agreement with the EU would jeopardise Switzerland's stable relations with the EU, including in the area of research and education. At present, no realistic alternatives to the present draft of the institutional agreement with the EU are apparent. A lack of a legal foundation would also call into question the existing bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU in the medium to longer term.
Without an institutional framework agreement, Swiss research would lose its equal access to the most important international research network. Switzerland's association with the Erasmus+ education programmes is also of central importance for the strategic and operational networking of Swiss universities.
Switzerland already experienced the high price of exclusion from EU programmes in 2014 in the wake of the adoption of the mass immigration initiative. Switzerland was first completely and then partially excluded from the EU research programmes. As a result, researchers from Switzerland were involved in significantly fewer international projects and received less funding from the EU. In addition, Switzerland lost its international appeal as a centre of research, education and innovation. The damage to Swiss science was considerable, and the effects are still being felt today. A repeat of this situation must be avoided by all means, as it led to planning uncertainty, the threat of unequal treatment and increasing isolation.
For Switzerland as a centre of research, education and innovation - and thus also for the country's competitiveness - international networking and cooperation with partners in Europe are crucial for success. For this, Swiss universities and research institutions are dependent on regulated relations with the EU, which are guaranteed by the present, generally balanced draft of the institutional framework agreement.
See also: "Swiss universities support the signing of the institutional agreement with the EU", 7 March 2019;