State of play Horizon Europe
- Exploratory talks: The European Commission has invited Switzerland to have exploratory talks on Switzerland's association to EU programmes in the fields of education, research and innovation (Horizon Europe, Euratom, Digital Europe Programme, ITER and Erasmus+). These exploratory talks are intended to prepare the negotiations. The negotiations on the association to the EU programmes (including the Horizon package) are part of the negotiations on the overall package and will start after adoption of the negotiation mandates on both sides. The exploratory talks started at the end of November 2023 in Brussels.
- Transitional arrangement programme year 2024: In addition, a transitional arrangement was agreed to enable researchers in Switzerland to participate in the ERC Advanced Grant 2024 call as soon as negotiations on the overall package and on association to the Horizon package have begun. For all other calls for proposal in 2024, researchers and innovators from Switzerland will continue to participate in the non-associated third country mode.
- Transitional arrangement programme year 2025: This transitional arrangement is to be applied to all Horizon Europe and Euratom calls for proposals for the 2025 programme year, provided that a corresponding agreement between Switzerland and the EU has been initialled by then. (Initialling is a preliminary step before the final signing of a contract.)
The European Union’s (EU) 9th Framework Programme, Horizon Europe, runs from 2021 to 2027. It is the largest research and innovation funding programme in the world and the most ambitious such programme in the history of the EU so far.
The 9th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon Europe 2021–2027) was officially launched on 12 May 2021 following approval of its legal basis by the Council of the European Union on 16 March 2021 and by the European Parliament on 27 April 2021. The programme entered into force retroactively on 1 January 2021.
Switzerland is currently treated as a non-associated third country for the submission of project proposals in the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation "Horizon Europe" and other related programmes and initiatives.
Project participation: In the non-associated third country mode, researchers and innovators in Switzerland can participate to a limited extent in around two thirds of the calls for proposals.
Funding: Switzerland provides funding for the participation of its research and innovation actors regardless of its participation status in the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation.
- In the current non-associated third country mode, researchers and innovators in Switzerland are funded directly by the Confederation if the complete project proposal has been positively evaluated by the European Commission (see Transitional Measures-Direct Funding).
- As an associated country, Switzerland will also finance the participation of its researchers and innovators in the Horizon Package (including Horizon Europe, Euratom, Digital Europe Programme, research infrastructure ITER) through its mandatory contribution to the European Commission.
The following graph illustrates the opportunities for project participation and funding for Swiss researchers and innovators in the 2023 calls for proposals of the Horizon Package. It should be noted that not all exclusions are based on the current status of a non-associated third country (such as e.g., EIC Pathfinder/Transition & Widening Participation and Spreading Excellence).
Switzerland's full association to "Horizon Europe" remains the Federal Council's declared goal. Switzerland and the EU share long-standing and successful cooperation ties in the area of research and innovation. Swiss participation in the EU-Framework Programme for Research and Innovation is part of the first series of bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU that came into effect in 2002. However, the EU views the question of Switzerland's association with Horizon Europe in the light of overall relations between Switzerland and the EU.
In addition, the EU would like to continue the previous association agreement with third countries such as Switzerland in a new form (so-called "specific agreement"). The negotiations on the association to the EU programmes (including the Horizon package) are part of the negotiations on the overall package , which provides for a bundle of agreements between Switzerland and the EU. The European Commission has invited Switzerland to have exploratory talks on Switzerland's association to EU programmes in the fields of education, research and innovation (Horizon Europe, Euratom, Digital Europe Programme, ITER and Erasmus+). These exploratory talks, which started at the end of November 2023 in Brussels, are intended to prepare the negotiations.
SERI publishes regular updates on Horizon Europe (see top of page "State of Play Horizon Europe").
Horizon Europe – main features
With a budget of EUR 95.5 billion, including contributions from the NextGenerationEU recovery plan, Horizon Europe is the most ambitious research and innovation funding programme in the history of the European Union. Excellence in science will continue to be funded and advanced by the European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
(MSCA). Knowledge-based innovations as well as the European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology
(EIT) will drive forward the EU’s industrial competitiveness and innovative performance.
The new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation aims to strengthen the EU’s science and technology base by investing more in highly qualified workers and cutting-edge research. Horizon Europe should also help to drive forward the EU's strategic priorities. This includes building a resilient, inclusive and democratic European society that is prepared for and able to respond to threats and disasters, and restoring and safeguarding Europe’s ecosystems and biodiversity to ensure a clean and healthy environment. Guided by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Horizon Europe will therefore help in achieving green and digital transformation and strengthen the European Research Area (ERA).
Horizon Europe is organised somewhat differently to former programmes (Horizon 2020; 2014–2020) and includes new elements and simplifications:
- The European Innovation Council (EIC) is now an integral part of Horizon Europe, with its own governance structures and research funding instruments in a separate work programme.
- A new element in Horizon Europe are the five EU-wide research and innovation missions that aim to address major societal challenges, such as the spread of cancer and climate change, through ambitious and applied long-term research and innovation. Citizens, stakeholders, the European Parliament and member states will be involved in these mission areas to increase the visibility of research and innovation and make science more inclusive.
- Open Science is the new modus operandi in Horizon Europe. The Open Access policy now applies to the whole programme.
Like Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe is structured into three pillars:
- The first pillar, Excellent Science, funds basic research and ground-breaking research projects via the European Research Council (ERC). It also includes grant funding via the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions
(MSCA) and investment in world-class research infrastructures.
- The second pillar, Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness, funds research related to social challenges and expands technological and industrial capacities. In addition, this pillar encompasses the EU-wide mission areas (see What’s new), which are designed to find solutions to the major problems of our time and to advance the strategic priorities of the European Union and the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs). It also includes the activities of the Joint Research Centres, which provide independent scientific and technical support to policymakers in the EU and its member states.
- The third pillar, Innovative Europe, aims to make Europe a leader in science-based innovation, with a major role being played by the European Innovation Council (EIC). This pillar will contribute to the development of the entire European innovation landscape, promoting the role of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and the involvement of businesses, research, higher education and entrepreneurship. It will also promote networking among regional innovation ecosystems.
Structure of Horizon Europe
|Widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area
|Widening participation and spreading excellence
|Reforming and enhancing the European Research and Innovation system
|Related programmes and initiatives
|Euratom Research and Training Programme
|Digital Europe Programme