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Swiss government plugs Horizon funding gap

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Swiss government plugs Horizon funding gap
Photo illustration used for the EU's Horizon 2020 programme. Image: European Commission
15:00 CEST+02:00
The federal government has approved interim measures to fund Swiss researchers participating in the EU's Horizon 2020 who have been denied funding from Brussels.

Numerous scientists in Switzerland are involved in Horizon 2020, the EU’s seven-year, €80- billion research and innovation programme, which began in January.

However Switzerland’s participation in the programme was jeopardized by the February 9th referendum in which the country voted in favour of immigration quotas.

The yes vote conflicts with the country’s bilateral agreement with the EU regarding the free movement of people.

As a result, the EU withdrew funding for Swiss participation in a number of initiatives, including the Erasmus student exchange programme and Horizon 2020.

Swiss researchers are still allowed to participate in Horizon 2020 projects but receive no funding from Brussels.

But on Wednesday the Swiss government said it would fund researchers involved in Horizon 2020 projects directly.

The fallout from the February 9th referendum is proving an administrative headache for the Swiss government.

In April politicians approved a 23 million francs ($26 million) funding pot to allow Swiss students to continue to participate in EU student exchange scheme Erasmus.

The government is currently lobbying the EU to overturn its decision to deny Switzerland full association to both Horizon 2020 and Erasmus.

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