Will Switzerland be able to be part of the Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe program in 2024?

Will Switzerland be able to be part of the Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe program in 2024?

Currently, Swiss researchers cannot coordinate projects linked to Horizon Europe and do not have access to prestigious funding from the European Research Council. © Keystone / Gaetan Bali

News that the European Commission is open to exploratory talks with Switzerland on Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ has been welcomed by Swiss universities. But the timing and final details of the potential future of the Science and Education Agreement remain to be clarified.

This content was published on December 8, 2023 – 2:00 PM

What is the latest news about Horizon Europe and Erasmus+?

The European Commission has invited Switzerland to hold exploratory talks on the country’s participation in EU programs in the areas of education, research and innovation (Horizon Europe, Euratom, Digita Europe Programme, ITER, Erasmus+), hoping that these programs will be able to reach an agreement early in the year. Next. Switzerland was excluded from Horizon Europe and other European initiatives in 2021, after it announced the failure of negotiations on its future institutional relationship with the European Union.

“Participation in Horizon Europe must remain separate from other negotiations between Switzerland and the EU.”

Federal Polytechnic Council

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European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Ileana Ivanova chirpExternal link She said on November 22 that she was “pleased to confirm” that discussions with Switzerland could continue. This continued with him TweetExternal link After 18 months of discussions, said European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, who said that a “common intention” had been reached between the EU and the EU regarding negotiations on a wide range of issues. He added: “This is an important and welcome step in our bilateral relations.”

Data from the European Commission suggest that talks on education, research and innovation will advance in parallel with the broader Swiss-EU negotiations. These statements came in the wake of the position taken by the Swiss government, which said, on November 8, that it would take a decision on its general position by the end of the year in light of the next phase of negotiations to regulate its relations with Switzerland. ‘European Union.

How did Swiss universities react?

The Council of Federal Colleges of Technology (which runs the prestigious technical colleges in Lausanne and Zurich) expressed its satisfaction with this “positive development”, calling for “the full participation of Switzerland in the ‘Horizon Europe’, as soon as possible.”

He added that “participation in Horizon Europe must remain separate from other negotiations between Switzerland and the European Union.”

Laure Augnois, Head of International Cooperation at the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), responded to these statements by saying: “The SNSF welcomes the European Commission’s announcement to start exploratory talks with Switzerland on the Horizon and Erasmus+ packages, and hopes that this will lead to an agreement in As soon as possible. Full engagement with Horizon Europe remains crucial for the Swiss scientific community.”

Yves Flückiger, dean of the University of Geneva, told SWI swissinfo.ch that he was satisfied with the progress made, but he was also cautious, recalling that “the European Commission, as a sign of openness, announced that it is ready to discuss with” Switzerland regarding future access to its research and innovation programmes. But he also clearly stated that formal talks will not begin until comprehensive negotiating mandates are adopted by both parties.”

Will the Horizon Europe participation agreement be signed in 2024?

Luciana Vaccaro, president of the umbrella association of Swiss universities, told the website: com. sciencebusiness And that the current progress “gives hope for signing.” [su un accordo di associazione] In 2024.”

The Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) emphasizes that partnership negotiations will require negotiating mandates from both sides (Switzerland and the EU).

The Union has already adopted its own package for the Horizon package at the end of 2020, and for Erasmus+ at the beginning of 2021. Once the most important criteria are clarified with Brussels, “the decision-making process on financing will begin.” “It could be started in parallel at the national level,” says SERI. Meanwhile, the European Council has not yet adopted the negotiating mandate for the Horizon and Erasmus+ participation talks.

“If sufficient progress is made at the political level – Flückiger stated – we can hope that the European competitions for grants for research, innovation and project coordination will again be open to Swiss men and women from 2024. If there is a transition period our authorities will have to ensure that all Financial guarantees until Switzerland fully joins.”

Times will be tight. In Bern, parliamentary committees will only be able to start their work in January 2024, followed by discussion in parliament. Meanwhile, Brussels hopes to conclude negotiations before the June elections, when a new commission will be appointed.

Why was Switzerland excluded from Europe’s horizon?

In May 2021, after seven years of negotiations, Switzerland withdrew from talks with the European Union to renew dozens of bilateral agreements on issues such as migration and trade. As a result, the European Commission decided to downgrade Switzerland to a third country not linked to Horizon Europe, the EU’s €95 billion (CHF91.5 billion) research funding programme.

Consequently, Swiss researchers cannot coordinate Horizon Europe projects and do not have access to prestigious grants from the European Research Council. Furthermore, Swiss SMEs and start-ups are excluded from EU innovation programmes.

And the Erasmus programme?

Since 2014, Switzerland has been excluded from the European Union’s Erasmus+ program (Education, Training, Youth and Sport in Europe). It was hoped that it would be included in the program for the period 2021-2027, but the situation faltered after the country halted negotiations with the European Union in 2021.

In 2022, the EU allowed Swiss universities to join the other major EU programme, the European Universities Initiative (which is actually part of Erasmus+), as an associated partner. Switzerland is not currently eligible for EU funds and its universities must apply to the national agency for grants to cover their share. Furthermore, they cannot coordinate and direct any Erasmus+ project.

“We expect the European Union to stop punishing male and female students, and to encourage Switzerland to return to the Erasmus+ programme.”

Gazmindi Nolli, Swiss Federation of University Students

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Olivier Chopp, director of Movitia, welcomed the European Commission’s recent announcement: “Horizon and research seem to be the priority, but we hope that cooperation with Erasmus will not lag too far behind,” he told SWI swissinfo.ch.

Chopp hopes that if the issue cannot be resolved in parallel “for political reasons”, the Erasmus Assembly can still be discussed directly afterwards. He added: “We are ready for accreditation.”

Meanwhile, the Swiss University Union (USU) and the European Students’ Union, fearing delays, urged the EU and EU administrations and parliaments to hold “serious talks” to quickly join Erasmus+.

“We know that the Erasmus re-engagement is part of the so-called ‘common intention.’ Our only demand is that it be treated with the same priority,” Gazmindi Noli, co-president of USU, told SWI swissinfo.ch. that the Horizon program enjoys.” .

According to Noli, it is necessary for Swiss politics to be fully aware of the advantages of the Erasmus program and set aside the necessary funds.

“We expect the European Union to no longer punish male and female students, and to motivate Switzerland to return to the Erasmus+ programme, because I believe that it is in the interest of both parties to receive future generations.” [di studentesse e studenti svizzeri e europei] “We can meet,” he added.

According to JTI standards

According to JTI standards

Other developments: SWI swissinfo.ch has been accredited by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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