Switzerland has a long tradition of cooperation in research and innovation with the European Union. Researchers in Switzerland have been participating in the EU Research Framework Programmes since 1988, either as associated or third country partners. As for the newest programme generation ‘Horizon 2020’, Switzerland was considered as a partially associated country until the end of 2016. National measures were applied to fund Swiss project participations in those areas of Horizon 2020 to which Switzerland was not associated during this time. As of 2017, Switzerland is fully associated to the entire Horizon 2020 programme.
The first EU Framework Programme (FP) started in 1984. The eighth programme generation was launched at the beginning of 2014 - under the name of Horizon 2020. An overview of the structure and various programme areas of Horizon 2020 can be found on the SERI website or the website of the European Commission.
Information about open calls and funding opportunities in Horizon 2020 is available directly on the EU's participant portal. In addition, the Euresearch offices provide researchers in Switzerland interested in taking part in Horizon 2020 with advice and support regarding calls for proposals and project submissions. They are mandated and financed by SERI.
Swiss research entities have been participating in the FPs since 1988. From 1992 until 2003, Swiss project participations were directly funded by the Confederation. In 2004, Switzerland became an associated country to the FPs. From then on, Switzerland contributed to the EU's global FP budget at a fixed rate (relative to its GDP), while Swiss researchers gained the same rights in terms of submitting project proposals and receiving funding from Brussels as their colleagues from EU member states.
Switzerland and Horizon 2020
After FP7 ended in 2013, plans for Switzerland's renewed association with FP8 - the Horizon 2020 package including Euratom - began. In September 2013, the Swiss Parliament approved the budget proposal for Switzerland's participation in Horizon 2020. Following the outcome of the 9 February 2014 vote on mass immigration initiative and corresponding failure to sign the Croatia Protocol, the European Union rejected Switzerland's full association with the entire Horizon 2020 package. Switzerland and the EU agreed instead on partial association, which provisionally came into effect on 15 September 2014 and remained in place until the end of 2016. This agreement was signed by both sides on 5 December 2014.
On 16 December, the Swiss Parliament approved implementation of Article 121a of the Federal Constitution, which fully complies with Swiss-EU bilateral agreements. On the same day, the Swiss Federal Council ratified extension of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons to Croatia and thus fulfilled the necessary condition for Switzerland's full association with Horizon 2020 from the beginning of 2017. As a result of this ratification, Switzerland has been fully associated with the Horizon 2020 package since 1 January 2017.