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Scientists call for approval of labour accord

The accord would make it easier for foreign scientists to work in Switzerland

(Keystone)

The Swiss research community has warned against rejection of a labour accord with the European Union, which will come to a vote on September 25.

At a media conference in the capital, Bern, on Monday, they said that international cooperation was vital for science and research in Switzerland.

Swiss voters will have the final say on extending a labour accord to the ten new EU member states, mainly in eastern Europe. The agreement is part of a first set of bilateral treaties between Switzerland and Brussels.

"The free movement of labour is indispensable for research," Thomas Hinderling, director of the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), told journalists.

According to Hinderling, all 150 researchers at the Neuchâtel-based institute agree that a "no" would block scientific work in Switzerland.

He added that research and training were driving forces in the economy.

Young generation

Christiane Langenberger, president of Euresearch, which promotes participation in European research programmes, said modern research was always part of an international network.

Langenberger, who is also a Senator for the Radical Party, said the bilateral accords were a precondition for a successful and strong research policy in Switzerland.

Patrick Aebischer and Ulrich Suter, two leading figures from the Federal Institutes of Technology in Lausanne and Zurich, pointed out that access to European research programmes was particularly important for young scientists.

For his part, Georg Kreis, the director of the Europa Institute at Basel University, was pessimistic about the consequences of a possible rejection of the accords on September 25.

"There is a risk that a 'no' vote on September 25 would isolate us from the rest of the world," Kreis told swissinfo.

The researchers are the latest lobby group joining in the campaign for the new labour accord. The business community, the trade unions, the cabinet and three of the main political parties have come out in favour.

But a far-right group, supported by the rightwing Swiss People's Party, collected enough signatures to force a nationwide vote on the issue.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

A labour accord between Switzerland and the old 15 EU members came into force in 2002.
On September 25 the Swiss vote on extending the agreement to the ten states that joined the EU in May 2004.
The accord will apply to Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, the three Baltic republics, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus.

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In brief

The committee of Swiss scientists and researchers is made up of 25 personalities.

It includes senior representatives from most of the country's universities, technical and research institutes.

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