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: recent events and partial association
With FP7 coming to an end after 2013, Switzerland's intention was to continue its association to FP8 - the Horizon 2020 package including Euratom - was foreseen. The Swiss parliament approved the funds for Switzerland's participation in Horizon 2020 in September 2013. As a result of the outcome of the popular vote of 9 February 2014 on the mass immigration initiative and the subsequent non-signing of the protocol on Croatia, the European Union rejects Switzerland's full association to the Horizon 2020 package. Instead, Switzerland and the EU agreed on a partial association, which provisionally came into effect on 15 September 2014 and runs until the end of 2016. An agreement to that effect was signed by both sides on 5 December 2014.
On 16 December 2016, the Swiss Parliament adopted the application law for Art.121a of the Constitution, respecting the Bilateral Agreements with the EU in all aspects. On the same day, the Swiss Federal Council ratified the protocol extending the free movement of persons to Croatia, thus fulfilling the necessary condition for Switzerland’s full association to Horizon 2020 as of 2017. Following this ratification, Switzerland retrieves the full association to the entire Horizon 2020 programme from 01 January 2017 on. The European Commission (EC) has updated its factsheet regarding Switzerland’s association status accordingly.