Researchers from Switzerland can currently take part in Horizon 2020, the European Union's EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, but they do not receive funding from the EU. In response to the result of the vote on mass immigration held on 9 February 2014, the European Commission suspended negotiations on Switzerland's association to the Horizon 2020 package and Switzerland now has the status of a third country. Due to the current uncertainty regarding Switzerland's status in Horizon 2020, numerous researchers from Switzerland are excluded from projects consortia. This means that researchers in Switzerland are not eligible to receive funding from other European programmes and initiatives which the European Commission co-finances via Horizon 2020. This affects the pan-European funding programme COST and a range of initiatives which under Articles 185 and 187 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) would be possible under the Framework Programme.
The federal decree of 10 September 2013 on funding of Swiss participation in the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation 2014-2020 allows for the Confederation to provide direct funding to participants in Switzerland in the case of delayed association to the programmes. In particular, the Federal Council has approved the following interim measures for the Horizon 2020 package in 2014:
- Direct federal funding of researchers in Switzerland who take part in Horizon 2020 cooperation projects but do not receive funding from Brussels as Switzerland is not an associate member of the programme. The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) will develop and administer this funding on a project-by-project basis, as was done prior to 2004. Researchers in public research institutions, organisations and companies based in Switzerland are eligible for funding for all partnership projects in the Horizon 2020 package including ERA-NET projects and European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) projects. Funding is also available to meet the costs of managing or coordinating such projects.
- Federal funding for grants to Swiss researchers co-financed in other research programmes and initiatives in the case of association to Horizon 2020. This includes in particular EU contributions to COST and other initiatives under Articles 185 and 187 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), such as the Ambient Assisted Living programme, the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) and the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP). SERI will consider how best to provide this funding in conjunction with the other organisations responsible for these programmes and initiatives.
- Federal funding for individual European Research Council (ERC) Horizon 2020 projects, where the call for projects was missed: the Federal Council has requested Parliament to approve additional funds in 2014 for the Swiss National Science Foundation's ‘temporary backup schemes'.
Although Switzerland has third country status, researchers should ideally be able to participate in the various activities as they would if Switzerland were associated to the EU Framework Programmes. SERI will publish application forms for project-based funding on its website in the autumn of 2014. The required legal provisions are currently being drafted and will be published as an ordinance; the funding criteria will be based as closely as possible on Horizon 2020 criteria and other research and innovation programme requirements.
These measures affect Horizon 2020 calls in 2014 which missed the opportunity to receive funding from the European Commission. The Federal Council's stated aim remains for Switzerland to achieve full association to Horizon 2020 by the end of the year, if possible.
Address for enquiries:
Rudolf Christen, Head of Information EAER,
Tel. +41 58 462 39 60
FDFA Communications, Tel. +41 58 462 31 53