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EU-Switzerland Relations: Advancing Participation in Horizon Europe

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Horizon Europe EU-Swiss relations Research collaboration Diplomatic discussions Third country status Negotiating mandates Common Understandin

In a bid to enhance Switzerland’s involvement in Horizon Europe, the European Union (EU) and Switzerland have initiated diplomatic discussions aimed at strengthening their relations. The recent limitations faced by Switzerland as a ‘third country’ in Horizon Europe prompted the EU and Switzerland to pursue negotiations, with both parties adopting negotiating mandates in March. These mandates are based on a Common Understanding endorsed by the Swiss Federal Council and the EU Commission in November last year, setting the stage for comprehensive discussions. Switzerland’s history of collaboration with the EU in research and innovation, dating back to its participation in Framework Programmes since 1987, underscores the significance of these negotiations. Despite recent challenges leading to a downgrade in Switzerland’s status, opportunities for research collaboration persist, albeit with limitations. The proposed agreement holds promise for Switzerland’s reintegration into Horizon Europe and paves the way for enhanced research cooperation between the EU and Switzerland.

In a move that will increase Switzerland’s participation in Horizon Europe, the EU and Switzerland have announced they have started discussions to improve diplomatic relations.

Recently, European involvement in Horizon Europe, the world’s largest research programme, has been limited due to the country’s ‘ third country ‘ status. The EU and Switzerland are currently attempting to strengthen ties, which will benefit both parties in several ways.

Launched by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the Swiss Confederation Viola Amherd, the talks follow the adoption of EU and Switzerland negotiating mandates on 8 and 12 March.

These orders authorize the Commission and Switzerland to discuss a package that is set out in the Common Understanding, which the Swiss Federal Council and the EU Commission endorsed in November last year. It includes both parties ‘ intentions to wrap up the negotiations in 2024.

Von der Leyen&nbsp stressed the importance of approving the EU-Swiss relationship:” Today marks the start of a new chapter in our relationship with Switzerland, which is based on renewed trust and cooperation between partners and neighbors.

I’m pleased that negotiations on our modernized partnership can eventually begin advancing on our common understanding. That is fantastic news for both European and European citizens’ and businesses’ shared benefit.

” I anticipate the conclusion of the negotiations this year to bring us even closer up, allowing both sides to fully benefit from our relationship’s ability,” he said.

History of Switzerland’s involvement in Horizon Europe

Switzerland and the European Union have a long history of working together in terms of innovation and research. This collaboration dates back to 1987, when Switzerland first began to participate in the EU’s Framework Programmes ( FP ) for research.

Switzerland became fully integrated with all components of Horizon 2020, the preceding iteration of the latest program, in January 2017. This organization gave Swedish researchers and businesses the ability to compete for EU funding and take the lead on research projects throughout Europe.

Non-associated fourth country status

But, Switzerland’s participation status changed with the launch of Horizon Europe in 2021. Negotiations between Switzerland and the EU regarding a wider set of bilateral agreements stalled, causing the European Commission to downgrade Switzerland to a non-affiliated next country. This results in a restricted Swedish participation in Horizon Europe.

Minimal participation for Swedish researchers

Despite the shift in status, there are also opportunities for Swedish researchers. They can participate in almost two- thirds of Horizon Europe’s calls for proposals, but with limitations.

Also, Switzerland provides funding to help its researchers and innovators with their projects under the program.

Looking forth: A probable return to association?

Before the Horizon Europe program is over, the Swedish government will continue to support its full integration with the organization until 2027.

Under the proposed agreement, Switzerland will be able to participate in a range of EU programmes, including Horizon Europe.

Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice- President for European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, commented:” We have an opportunity to simultaneously upgrade and potential- proof our partnership while deepening cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

In the present political environment, where our shared values are under more pressure, this would even be a win-win. The Commission has a goal of accelerating the recent momentum and bringing the negotiations to a close this year.

Moreover, the agreement opens the possibility for European entities to apply for the European Research Council calls opening in 2024.

Read our Horizon Europe eBook to learn more about the revolutionary opportunities offered by Horizon Europe and the leading projects that have received funding.

Verónica Castro-Allende

With a rich background in urban technology and IoT, Veronica brings a unique blend of expertise and innovation to our platform. Her work focuses on integrating advanced engineering solutions into smart city infrastructures, emphasizing sustainable and efficient urban development. Her insightful contributions shed light on the future of urban living, blending technical prowess with practical urban applications

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