Policy: EU-Switzerland Negotiations Pave the Way for Horizon Europe Association

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the Swiss Confederation Viola Amherd have launched negotiations on a broad package of measures to deepen and expand the EU-Switzerland relationship.

The negotiations follow the adoption of the Swiss and EU negotiating mandates on 8 and 12 March 2024 respectively, which together authorise the Commission and Switzerland to negotiate the measures outlined in the Common Understanding endorsed by the Swiss Federal Council and the European Commission in November 2023.

The Common Understanding foresees an association agreement covering at least the following programmes: Horizon Europe, Euratom Research & Training, International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, Digital Europe, Erasmus+, Creative Europe, EU4Health and Copernicus. The exact scope of association for each programme will be defined during the negotiations. The Common Understanding confirms both sides’ ambition to conclude negotiations in 2024.

President von der Leyen said:

‘Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our relationship with Switzerland based on a renewed trust and engagement between partners and neighbours. I am glad that negotiations on our modernised partnership can finally start building on our Common Understanding. That is great news for the mutual benefit of European and Swiss citizens and businesses. I look forward for the finalisation of the negotiations this year to bring us even closer together allowing both sides to fully benefit from the potential of our relationship.’

Following the launch of the negotiations, Swiss entities will have the opportunity to apply for the European Research Council calls opening in 2024. Swiss applicants will be treated as if Switzerland is an associated country from admissibility and eligibility to evaluation, up until the preparation of grant agreements.

While Switzerland remains a non-associated third country to other European Commission programmes until negotiations conclude, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) has committed to temporarily funding Swiss participants in around two-thirds of Horizon Europe, so applicants may submit proposals as normal. Full details are available on the Government’s dedicated webpage.

While most collaborative projects in Horizon Europe are open to participants from non-associated third countries, the participation in mono-beneficiary instruments is by principle not possible as project submissions from non-associated third countries are not evaluated by the European Commission and therefore cannot be funded by SERI. For some parts of the programme, which are not open to non-associated third countries, SERI has initiated transitional measures. Applicants are advised to consult the SERI website on transitional measures and direct funding to submit a funding request for a collaborative project, which provides a detailed outline of all the necessary information and steps for preparing and submitting a funding application.

The full announcement of the commencement of the negotiations is available on the European Commission website.

(This Bulletin article was the subject of a ResearchConnect news alert.)