Switzerland’s goal remains full association with the Horizon Europe package. But the added value of an association depends on the point in time.
If Switzerland is not associated with the EU research program “Horizon Europe” in the near future, the Federal Council wants to examine in 2023 whether an association still makes sense at all. Secretary of State Martina Hirayama said at a media briefing.
Several project tenders planned for 2023
Switzerland’s goal is still full association with the “Horizon Europe” package, said the State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). But it also depends on how the situation will be in 2023. “Because the added value of an association naturally depends on the point in time at which one is associated.”
Hirayama justifies this with the launch of larger tenders. “That is usually at the beginning of such a program period.” In 2023 there will be another larger round of tenders. But the “longer we are not associated”, the more of these projects and consortia have already started.
The EU’s framework program for research and innovation “Horizon Europe” runs from 2021 to 2027 and, with a budget of a good 95 billion euros, is the world’s largest research and innovation funding program. Together with the extraordinary package of economic stimulus measures “Next Generation EU”, it serves, among other things, to promote green and digital change throughout Europe.
Switzerland was associated with the previous program “Horizon 2020”. The Federal Council is striving for the same status for “Horizon Europe” and the associated programs and initiatives (Euratom programme, ITER and “Digital Europe programme”).
Switzerland continues to be considered a non-associated third country in the Horizon package. In this status, actors from research and innovation can participate in around two-thirds of the calls for tender, but they receive no funding from the EU.
Secretary of State Hirayama sees conditions met
State Secretary Hirayama left open the question of whether she expects talks between Bern and Brussels on “Horizon Europe” to start soon. However, she pointed out that, in her opinion, Switzerland fulfilled the conditions for this. Berne had “shown the clear political will” to solve the institutional issues and the second cohesion contribution had also been spoken. In addition, Switzerland is taking over the EU sanctions against Russia and taking in refugees from Ukraine.
Above all, you have to say that it would be a good time for “the EU to say now: Yes, Switzerland has met the requirements that you can start talks about an association”. Recording conversations does not mean that you are automatically associated, added Hirayama. But ultimately this is a political decision.