The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in Bern has set up a temporary funding scheme to get around the European Union’s 26 February ban excluding Switzerland from European Research Council (ERC) grants. According to SNSF spokesman Jürg Dinner, researchers working in Switzerland, or who applied for an ERC starting grant before 25 March, may request a comparable grant from the SNSF for 2014.
The Swiss move follows a call by European francophone universities for the EU to reconsider its sanction against the 9 February Swiss vote curbing mass migration. “Never in the history of political relations between the European Community has such retaliation been implemented,” said Bernard Rentier, Rector of the University of Liège.
Ambrogio Fasoli, an Italian physicist at EPFL in Lausanne, agrees that the EU reacted too quickly. “My concern is that this could reverse the process of scientists such as myself coming back from abroad to work on projects in Switzerland, which, next to the United States, has the best reputation for scientific research.” He also worries that those he calls young super-scientists will not be allowed to participate in Swiss projects in chemistry, mathematics, health or nanotechnology. “It means not only that European researchers who had applied for grant money to come to a Swiss institution will not be able to come,” Fasoli said, “but also that this money will not be available for Swiss researchers wishing to participate in European projects”.