Swiss universities fear EU science funding snub

EPFL President Martin Vetterli wants to make sure the message is put across this time around. © KEYSTONE / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

Swiss universities fear losing out on the European Union’s “Horizon Europe” science research funding pot if Switzerland fails to reach agreement with the EU on a political framework for future relations.

This content was published on February 5, 2019

Horizon EuropeExternal link is the €100 billion research and innovation programme that will succeed Horizon 2020. Switzerland was temporarily demoted to third country status of Horizon 2020 after voters backed migration quotas in 2014External link.

The heads of Switzerland’s two Federal Institutes of Technology, ETHZ and EPFL, on Tuesday voiced concerns that funding restrictions could apply to Horizon Europe unless a settlement between Swiss and EU politicians can be reached.

The EU has already classified Switzerland in category 4 of non-EU states in the new science research programme. Although the EU denies this will not affect funding of Swiss research projects, Joël Mesot of ETHZ and EPFL’s Martin Vetterli are not so sure.

Both university presidents told reporters in Brussels that the lowly category could allow Brussels to restrict funding or impose conditions. They said they did not want to be accused of failing to send a warning, having been criticized for complacency in 2014.

Last December, the Swiss government said it needed to put the framework conditions deal to consultation domestically before a decision could be made on whether to accept the deal.

Since 2014, talks have been taking place to formalise relations between the two sidesExternal link, now covered by around 120 separate accords that have been negotiated since a 1992 referendum in the Alpine state rejected joining the European Economic Area.

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