The European Union and Switzerland are today (5 December 2014) signing a comprehensive international agreement associating Switzerland to parts of Horizon 2020, Research and Training Programme of Euratom and the ITER project. This will see Switzerland participate in project consortia in eligible programmes on an equal footing with EU Member States, while financially contributing to these programmes with an estimated €400 million until the end of 2016.
Commenting on the signature of the agreement, Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Science, Research and Innovation said: “This agreement is of paramount importance for our scientific communities. EU researchers benefit from access to excellent Swiss research facilities and institutions. At the same time, access to schemes for researcher mobility like Marie Skłodowska-Curie or to excellent research in programmes like ERC and Future and Emerging Technologies is vital for the Swiss. Furthermore, with this agreement Switzerland renews its commitment towards our long standing and fruitful collaboration.”
As part of the Horizon 2020 programme, Swiss beneficiaries will be able to participate with an associated status in actions under the "Excellent Science" pillar, which contains the European Research Council, Future and Emerging Technologies, Research Infrastructures and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions as well as in actions under the specific objective “Spreading excellence and widening participation”. In addition, Switzerland will also participate as an associated country in the Euratom Programme and the ITER project.
The participation of Switzerland is effective from 15 September 2014 until 31 December 2016. Beyond 2016, association to these programmes will depend on Swiss measures to ensure the non-discrimination of Croatian citizens and researchers. If Switzerland resolves the issue of the free movement of persons by February 2017, the association will expand to the whole of Horizon 2020 including the parts not yet covered. Otherwise, the whole agreement will be automatically terminated.
Cooperation in research and technology between the European Union/Euratom and Switzerland has a long history. Switzerland has been associated to the two previous framework programmes while in fusion it has been associated since the start of the programme in 1978 (“historic partnership” for Euratom). In the last programme (FP7, 2007-2013) Switzerland has had a very active participation with 4,457 participations from Switzerland in 3,404 signed grant agreements, which ranks Switzerland at first place amongst the Associated Countries in terms of number of participations and budget share. The Swiss participants have been particularly active in areas such as: nanotechnologies, ERC, Marie Curie actions, food, agriculture, fisheries and biotechnologies and ICT. Switzerland has been a valuable partner for Euratom research, and it is the only third country associated to the entirety of the previous Euratom research programme (2012-2013). By virtue of its association to Euratom, the ITER Agreement applies also to Switzerland. In relation to cooperation in fusion under the Euratom Programme the new agreement will replace the 1978 Fusion Cooperation Agreement.