The research agreement is a hard nut to crack – Horizon Europe: Disappointment grows – News

The research agreement is a hard nut to crack – Horizon Europe: Disappointment grows – News

This week in Brussels, Switzerland’s chief negotiator, Livia Leu, signed a document promising a further 1.3 billion Swiss francs in payments under Cohesion Policy for Eastern Europe. In return – hopefully – research collaboration will go a step further. But far from it.

Needless to say, once again – with emphasis – I was campaigning for Switzerland to be included in the Horizon Europe package.

Let’s go back: Thursday afternoon. In Brussels, leading diplomat Livia Leu appeared before the media and said: “Of course, again – and definitely – I was in favor of Switzerland’s association with the Horizon Europe package.” But no luck.

Almost exactly a year ago, the EU relegated Switzerland to the status of an unaffiliated third country in research cooperation under the Horizon Europe program. This is a direct consequence of the conclusion of the negotiations on the institutional framework agreement. For Swiss researchers, this means that they are excluded from the best research programs of the European Union. Moreover, Swiss research institutions can no longer deal with project management in this context.

Long-term consequences

A disaster, say those responsible at ETH and universities. The president of Swiss universities, Yves Flückiger, speaks of a very difficult situation and there is no hope of any move any time soon. Nevertheless, the rector of the University of Geneva expects the federal government to do everything possible to allow Switzerland to join Horizon Europe – even if it should be later. “You must try everything possible at the federal level so that – even overdue – the association can be achieved.” This is the main goal.

The situation is not good at the moment.

The situation is not good at the moment. The best people no longer come to Swiss universities, companies move to remain part of European innovation projects. Flückiger is concerned about Switzerland’s long-term disadvantage as a location for innovation and research. True, Switzerland is funding replacement programs for its scientists amounting to 1.2 billion Swiss francs. But the lack of prestige cannot be compensated for with money.

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Are you looking for a creative approach

Disappointment is also spreading in politics – incl. among the members of the science and education committee.

The window of opportunity is now closed.

FDP member of the Council of States, Ruedi Noser, does not find it realistic that Switzerland could soon re-engage in European research cooperation: ‘We would now have to prepare projects to submit them. Some dates are already open. They close in October and November. Someone who wants to get into the project has already made a decision. So the window of opportunity is now closed. “

Plan B – which you can join Horizon later – is a long way off.

National Councilor Matthias Aebischer of the SP also does not see a quick unblocking: “After the recent negotiations it will surely become more and more difficult. And plan B – which you can join Horizon later – is still a long way off. “

The Federal Council is committed to initiating the unblocking with concrete institutional proposals.

The Scientific Committee of the State Council did not consider it advisable to buy additional fees for cohesion. Your president – a politician from the Benedikt Würth center – formulates the solution as follows: “You need a creative approach in the national political context. As for foreign policy, the Federal Council is called upon to initiate unblocking with concrete institutional proposals. »

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Both remain contentious.

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