The Swiss government on Wednesday approved accords allowing Swiss researchers and businesses to participate in two projects co-funded by Horizon 2020, marking the resumption of the country's full participation in this landmark EU research programme.
The first project, Eurostars-2, allows small and medium sized tech and digital businesses the chance to collaborate with European researchers, said the government in a statement
The second, Active and Assisted Living (AAL), aims to develop solutions to enable elderly people to maintain an active and independent life. Switzerland’s participation in the project forms part of an initiative aiming to combat the shortage of qualified workers, said the government.
Significantly, Wednesday’s accords allow Switzerland to regain full membership of the EU’s Horizon 2020, a seven-year 80 billion euro research and innovation programme.
Switzerland’s participation in the programme has been limited since 2014 when the country voted in favour of anti-immigration measures that would have contravened its free movement agreement with the EU.
In retaliation, Brussels froze funds to Swiss scientists
, and although the Swiss government subsequently plugged some of the gap, the country’s participation in Horizon 2020 projects has been greatly reduced.
However in December last year the Swiss government decided against fully implementing the anti-immigration initiative; its watered-down solution allowed it to retain free movement and therefore ratify the protocol extending that right to Croatia.