Swiss researchers make plea to get back into Horizon Europe

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Swiss researchers are poised to launch a global plea to rejoin Horizon Europe, following a breakdown in bilateral talks that saw Switzerland cut out of the EU’s major research funding programme.

Among those behind the initiative, set to launch 8 February, are the president of the Swiss Écoles Polytechniques Féderales (EPF), Michael Hengartner, EPFL’s Martin Vetterli and EPFZ’s Joël Mesot.

On Wednesday, the Swiss Federal Council will discuss relations with the EU, which have been at an impasse since talks for a cooperation treaty fell through in May 2021. But it will “probably fail to produce a precise roadmap for resuming negotiations with the EU”, writes the Swiss daily newspaper Le Temps.

The collapse of negotiations led to Switzerland’s status being downgraded to a third state and as a result getting ejected from the EU’s €96bn flagship programme, leaving many Swiss researchers without access to funds.

The United Kingdom suffered a similar fate following Brexit. Swiss researchers hope that by joining forces with their UK colleagues, the EU might realise that their own research sector will also bear the consequences of excluding long-standing partners.

“Science should not be taken hostage by politics,” Hengartner wrote last month in a letter addressed to Martina Hirayama, the Swiss state secretary for education, research and innovation.

If negotiations fail, Swiss-EU relations could fall apart as the bilateral agreements that are still in force reach their expiration date, the European Commission’s vice-president, Maros Sefcovic, told Der Spigel Magazine in an interview in December.

Le Temps (FR)