To say it in advance: Swiss partners can be integrated into almost all sub-areas of Horizon Europe. To date is even very attractive to invite Swiss to collaborate, because the overall budget of any Horizon Europe project can be increased by the money that Swiss partners will bring along from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI. We explain in detail here.
Whom to ask if you need 1st hand information on the Swiss participation? The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI is in charge and responsible in Switzerland for the cooperation in the field of research, education and innovation with the EU. The SERI prepares and joins all political negotiations with the EU and provides regular information on Switzerland’s participation in Horizon Europe. Besides the SERI, there are also the information counters of www.euresearch.ch with a head office in the capital Bern and offices in all Swiss university cities. They support the practical participation of the Swiss but do neither have money to provide nor political power or influence.
The problem: Why has Switzerland been demoted by the EU as a third country, similar as e.g., China or Australia? To put it briefly, because there are disagreements and omissions in various areas of the bilateral negotiations on Switzerland-EU cooperation. All in all, there are more than 170 agreements between the two parties, and it is becoming increasingly complicated if Switzerland is neither an EU member nor a member of the EEA (European Economic Area). No political group has yet made a case for it. The current situation is simply still too comfortable, and no disadvantage can be felt by the citizens/voters. The administrative thoroughness of the EU Commission and the REA, the intrigues of the states under which many previous participants have suffered, means that even the Swiss researchers cannot bring themselves to stand up for full association. There are aspired superior agreements as a basis of cooperation (cohesion treaties and institutional agreements) which are currently pending, why now for 2021 it was not possible to associate Switzerland fully. This was foreseeable and the situation is also well known by the Swiss. In 2014, Switzerland again became a third country in Horizon2020. At that time, the reason was that the people rejected the free movement of persons in a vote with a very narrow majority and the Swiss Federal Council did not seamlessly recognize the new member Croatia contractually in the follow-up.
The solution: Indeed, on December 16, 2020, the Swiss Parliament already approved 5.42 billion Swiss francs for participation in Horizon Europe, the Euratom program, the International Fusion Research Infrastructure (Iter), and the Digital Europe programme. In the case of full association, the money would have been added to the already existing total budget of €95.5 billion. Now as a third country, Switzerland pays separately for each Swiss partner in the projects.
What to do? Actively invite Swiss when writing project proposals. Declare them not being associated. Write “0” (zero) EU contribution in the financial form and e.g. 320’000 CHF own contribution. When the project will be approved for funding, present the Evaluation Summary Report (ESR) and present to SERI the project (ESR) in case of a positive evaluation. However, Swiss cannot officially coordinate projects and budgets are not fully available for all programs. For example, there is no contribution for the Accelerator EIT Start-up programs and ITER. In case of ERC proposals, StG order CoG get funded whilst in case of the Advanced Grants (also Quantum- und Space-A or CAS) the co-funding is not secured yet. In general, the networking of Swiss researchers, i.e. collaborative projects are primarily financially supported by SERI. The Swiss under these special conditions are for sure of added value. Not at least because you can plan a project meeting in the beautiful Swiss alps and by enabling an extra work package with the additional Swiss own budget contribution. Stay tuned about the actual terms and conditions to step-by-step integrate the Swiss: screen the website https://tinyurl.com/zb2v7352 of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI. Or the SERI Hotline: Tel. +41 58 463 50 50 or email@example.com.
ENRICH GLOBAL offers to guide its members through this process, do not hesitate to reach our Swiss-based co-funding member EUrelations HELPLINE: +41 79 695 44 56, for any assistance. Your questions are welcome!
Author: Dr. Andrea Degen, Innovation Management, EURelations