Parliament's strong support for Switzerland as a research location

During the summer session, the National Council adopted several interventions related to Switzerland's participation in Horizon Europe. It asked the Federal Council to negotiate with the EU an immediate association with the framework programme and to launch a comprehensive research and innovation programme.
Will Switzerland be able to join the Horizon Europe programme? (Image: Swiss Parliament)

The National Council approved the proposal of the National Council's Committee for Science, Education and Culture (SECC-N) by a vote of 164:7. The result could not have been much clearer. The motion calls on the Federal Council, in view of the lack of association with Horizon Europe, to invest in a research and innovation programme to attract the world's best researchers and start-ups to Switzerland.

According to Christian Wasserfallen (FDP/BE), this programme should be set up independently of Switzerland's participation in Horizon Europe: "A mix of subject and object funding should enable us to offer the best framework conditions to researchers from third countries and from the EU periphery as well as to Swiss researchers." People who have received an ERC grant, for example, should be able to benefit from even better conditions in Switzerland. The vast majority of the National Council was convinced by this.

The Council of States' Committe will deal with the proposal at its meeting on 22 August.

Rapid association to Horizon Europe

"Swiss universities, colleges and researchers are dependent on cooperation with our European neighbours," said Fabian Molina (SP/ZH) in the National Council debate. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council (FAC-N) therefore wants to instruct the Federal Council to conduct negotiations with the EU for Switzerland's immediate association with Horizon Europe and Erasmus+. Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter (centre/BL) also wants a swift association, but not an additional cohesion billion as demanded by the motion: "What the EU wants are answers to the big questions: dynamic adoption of law, the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union, how to proceed with the free trade agreement and a few more toads.”

It was to be expected that things would get tight in the National Council due to the majority in the FAC-N (13:12 for the motion). In fact, it turned out to be extremely tight: in a stalemate with 92:92 votes, the President of the National Council cast the deciding vote in favour of the motion. Now it is the turn of the Council of States. Its preliminary committee will deal with the motion on 15/16 August.