Parliament backs Horizon Europe and adopts ERI Dispatch

During its winter session, the Federal Parliament adopted the ERI Dispatch 2021-2024. Some CHF 10.8 billion will be allocated to the ETH Domain. The Federal Parliament also approved funds for the full association of Switzerland to the Horizon Europe research and innovation framework programme.
Despite the uncertain financial perspectives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Swiss Parliament supported the framework credits in the ERI Dispatch 2021-2024. (©Creative Commons CC-BY 3.0)

Switzerland attaches particular importance to education, research and innovation. Its parliament demonstrated this once again during its winter session (30 November to 18 December) by strengthening the framework conditions for Switzerland's international openness and networking as well as for the funding of education, research and innovation (ERI). Despite the uncertain financial perspectives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parliament supported the framework credits in the ERI Dispatch 2021-2024 and also approved funding for the European Union's research and innovation programme Horizon Europe.

Green light to Horizon Europe

During winter session, Parliament created the conditions for Switzerland's participation in Horizon Europe by approving the credit for the Horizon 2021-2027 package. This also includes participation in ITER, Euratom and in Digital Europe. Switzerland's participation in Euratom has been discussed: the Swiss Socialist Party and the Greens wanted to withdraw from the programme at the end of 2025, but their motions were rejected.

Despite the approval of the 2021-27 package, Switzerland's participation in Horizon Europe is not yet a given factor, since the European Union has linked the framework programme to the progress made with the institutional agreement.

Participation in Erasmus+

Other points discussed during the winter session included the full association of Switzerland to the Erasmus+ programme. Following various proposals in this area, Parliament included the corresponding funds in the financial plan 2022-2024. However, the funds have not yet been allocated, as the financial plan is not binding. However, Ueli Maurer, the federal government's chief financial officer, has confirmed that the Federal Council will submit a dispatch on Erasmus+ to parliament in 2021. On 11 December, the ETH Board decided in favour of full association with Erasmus+.

Divergences from the ETH Law

The National Council and the Council of States could not find common ground on the ETH Law. Two disputes remain: one concerns the appeal possibilities of the two Federal Institutes of Technology and the four research institutes against decisions of the ETH Board; the other dispute is whether the ETH Board or the Federal Council should elect the members of the ETH Appeals Commission. Parliament will resume the debate in the spring session. The revised ETH Law can only enter into force at a later date.

ERI Dispatch

The Federal Council's Dispatch on the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation (ERI Dispatch) is the Confederation's main instrument for funding and steering the ERI actors it (co)funds. In addition to the ETH Domain, it includes the SNSF, Innosuisse, the cantonal universities and universities of applied sciences, as well as vocational and continuing education and training. With a budget of CHF 10.8 billion out of a total of around CHF 28 billion, the ETH Domain is an important part of the ERI Dispatch.