Swiss Universities Urge Government to Ensure Switzerland’s Full Association to Horizon Europe Program

Zürich, Switzerland

Leaders of universities and businesses in Switzerland have issued a joint resolution, calling on the country’s government to ensure Switzerland’s full participation in the EU’s research and innovation program, the Horizon Europe, by the end of 2022.

The resolution has been issued by the Board President of the public university ETH, Michael Hengartner, the president of swissuniversities – the organization of Swiss Universities, Yves Flückiger, and the head of scienceindustries, Matthias Leuenberge.

Swiss universities can no longer receive funding through the program due to Switzerland’s decision to discontinue a draft treaty binding, which has hindered the process of association to the program, Erudera.com reports.

Universities and the Swiss industry have expressed concerns about Switzerland not participating fully in the program as the country is also not eligible to participate in leading European space and quantic research projects. ETH Board President Michael Hengartner told SonntagsBlick that universities are “experiencing the first setbacks.”

The resolution notes that participation in Horizon Europe is essential for training, research and innovation in Switzerland, adding that the first consequences of Switzerland’s non-association to Horizon Europe are already being felt as many researchers in Switzerland have had to give up in leading different EU projects.

“Due to its current status as a non-associated third state, Switzerland must expect that researchers from leading edge and innovative companies leave Switzerland or no longer even come here. This will result in a substantial weakening of research and innovation in Switzerland, based on the attractiveness of our economic position. Our country risks losing its footing internationally,”

Moreover, the co-signatories highlighted that researchers risk leaving Switzerland for another country where they can apply for EU grants.

The European Research Council (ERC) announced recently that due to the lack of a deal between Switzerland and the EU, researchers from Switzerland who received Horizon Europe grants for research must now conduct their work outside Switzerland.

Europe’s universities also united in a request for European and the Swiss government about Switzerland being fully associated to Horizon Europe as well as to Erasmus+, saying that Switzerland plays a key role in advancing European research and education.

“The current standstill in the association of Switzerland to the Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ programs is disadvantageous for both Switzerland and the European Union in terms of lost opportunities,” European University Association said in a statement.

Horizon Europe is the EU’s main funding program for research and innovation, with a budget of €95.5 billion

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