The European Commission is in favour of researchers in Switzerland participating in the European research programme Horizon 2020, from which they had been excluded after the Swiss voted in February to curb immigration from Europe.
On Friday the commission backed Switzerland’s partial and temporary association with the programme until 2016. It allows for the Swiss to be able to receive funding from the EU for certain projects again.
The Swiss cabinet had on Wednesday already given the green light to this agreement.
Based on the new deal, researchers in Switzerland may be associated and equally entitled partners once again in selected parts of Horizon 2020, primarily in an area called “Excellent Science”, which is aimed at boosting European research.
Switzerland remains a third country in the eyes of the European Union (EU), like the United States or Japan with regard to two other areas: “Industrial Leadership” and “Societal Challenges”.
The next step will be for the 28 EU member states to approve the agreement, so it can be signed by the end of the year.
As of 2017, Switzerland may again become a fully associated member of the Horizon 2020 programme – but only if it finds a solution with regard to the immigration quotas to be imposed on EU citizens and the extension of the free movement of people agreement to Croatia.
If Switzerland cancels the agreements with the EU or fails to extend the protocol by February 9, 2017, the Horizon 2020 agreement will become obsolete, and Switzerland would be treated as a third state in all areas.
swissinfo.ch and agencies