Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Switzerland says it can’t afford to take part in Copernicus programme

Copernicus is the European Union’s Earth observation programme. In particular, it monitors climate change. Keystone

Switzerland will not be participating in the European Copernicus programme to monitor climate change from 2021 to 2027. The reason for this is the strained state of federal finances, according to the government.

Parliament had voted in favour of participation in the satellite programme.

Participation would put a further strain on the already tight federal budget, the government said on Wednesday. The possibility of joining the programme from 2028 would be examined during the current period.

Switzerland’s participation in Copernicus would require the negotiation of a bilateral agreement with the EU, it said. A large proportion of the data would remain freely accessible, as has been the case to date.

A year ago, the House of Representatives and Senate sent a clear signal in favour of joining Copernicus and adopted a corresponding motion without discussion.

In contrast to most other European countries, Switzerland does not have its own earth observation programme, pointed out parliamentarian Marco Romano, explaining his motion. Universities and the software industry had been calling for this for years, he said.

Furthermore, Switzerland risked losing technological knowledge if it did not participate in the European Earth observation programme launched in 2014, he said. In addition, jobs at suppliers could be relocated abroad if Switzerland did not actively participate in the programme. The programme is also an important source of data worldwide, Romano said.

Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter explained at the time that the government could also agree to the motion. However, this participation would not come for free, she warned, in view of the as yet undefined financial costs involved.

+ Switzerland wants to join EU Copernicus scheme

Earth observation

Copernicus is the European Union’s Earth observation programme. It offers a wide range of geoinformation in areas such as environmental monitoring. In particular, it monitors climate change.

The programme is coordinated and managed by the European Commission. It is implemented in partnership with the member states, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, EU agencies and Mercator Ocean.

As a member of the ESA, Switzerland has taken part in the development of this programme, as well as the European Union’s research and development framework programmes.

Translated from French by DeepL/ts

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

If you want to know more about how we work, have a look here, and if you have feedback on this news story please write to

Popular Stories

Most Discussed


In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here . Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR