Status of Swiss institutions in EU knowledge programmes
Since 1 January 2017, Swiss researchers and institutions are able to participate in all parts of Horizon 2020.
Switzerland ratified the protocol extending the free movement of persons to Croatia on 16 December 2016. As a result, Switzerland can participate in Horizon 2020 as a fully Associated Country.
The negotiations with the European Union on the association of Switzerland to Horizon 2020 had been suspended following the adoption of the popular vote against mass immigration on 9 February 2014. Meanwhile, an agreement with the European Commission (EC) providing a partial and provisory association to Horizon 2020 had been found. The agreement offered companies, researchers and institutions in Switzerland access to priorities 'Excellent Science' and 'Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation' as well as to activities falling under EURATOM and International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) until the end of 2016.
The condition to be fully associated to Horizon 2020 as of 1 January 2017 was the ratification of the protocol extending the free movement of persons to Croatia. With this condition fulfilled, Swiss researchers and institutions can since 1 January 2017 participate in all parts of Horizon 2020, under the same conditions as Member States of the EU and other Associated Countries.
On 26 February 2014, the European Commission (EC) suspended the association negotiations and demoted Switzerland to a ‘partner country’ (i.e. third country) in Erasmus+. The status of ‘partner country’ means that Swiss organisations are not eligible for bilateral mobility activities under Erasmus+ and eligible (for funding) under specific conditions for certain activities.
The Swiss Federal Council tasked the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) with designing an interim solution for 2014. This solution was approved on 16 April 2014 and gives priority to bilateral mobility activities: funding is secured for both outgoing and incoming mobility. Funding is also available for cooperation projects. Movetia is responsible for implementing the interim measures and publishes special calls for proposals for Swiss organisations wishing to participate in Erasmus+ approved cooperation projects as 'silent' partners with Swiss funding. On 19 September 2014, the Swiss Federal Council decided to renew the interim solution for 2015-2016. On 7 September 2016, the Swiss Federal Council decided to extend the interim solution for 2017.
By mutual agreement in spring 2017, negotiations between Switzerland and the European Commission were not reopened. The Swiss Federal Council assumes that association in the 2018–2020 period is no longer realistic. The Federal Council has submitted a dispatch to Parliament in order to have a Swiss solution for the 2018-2019 period that still allows for re-association in the EU programmes at a later date. Switzerland thus remains a ‘partner country’ to Erasmus+.