On 14 July 2021, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation reported that it had been told by the European Commission that Switzerland will be treated as a non-associated third country in the EU’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme.
This means that Switzerland can only participate in limited ways. It can put forward proposals to some projects but will not qualify for funding. As a work around, the Swiss government will fund Swiss proposals and has earmarked CHF 6.15 billion for such projects.
At the same time, participation in particular projects will no longer be possible. For example the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions fund will be closed to Switzerland.
The move follows the Swiss government’s unilateral decision in June 2021 to walk away from a seven-year negotiation to upgrade Switzerland’s relationship with the EU.
The Federal Council said that it continues to seek full association to the programme but that no negotiations between Switzerland and the European Union are currently under way.
As a condition of reentry, the European Commission said that it would be conditional on payment of the second enlargement contribution and the conclusion of an agreement that regulates Switzerland’s participation in EU programmes.
Horizon Europe is an EU research and innovation programme that runs from 2021 to 2027 with a budget of 95 billion euros, making it the largest programme of its kind in the world. Switzerland was a full member of its predecessor Horizon 2020.