Switzerland and the European Union are looking toward closer cooperation on scientific research.
The EU's research commissioner, Philippe Busquin, said in Bern on Friday he hoped Switzerland would take an active role in a four-year European scientific research programme, scheduled to run from 2002 to 2006.
During talks with the Swiss home affairs minister, Ruth Dreifuss, Busquin said the Swiss scientific community "was one of the best in Europe in terms of quantity and quality."
He added that Switzerland could contribute "a great deal" in the scientific domain.
Swiss cooperation on joint European research projects depends on the successful ratification of the bilateral accords already negotiated with the EU, but which are still unsigned by seven of its member states.
Dreifuss made it clear that Europe rediscover its "rightful position in the world as first in the world in the field of scientific research." She added that Switzerland should be involved in the preparation and selection of scientific projects carried out in Europe.
During his visit to Switzerland, Busquin also toured the research facilities of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where he met a number of research students and industry representatives.
swissinfo with agencies