Swiss participation in Horizon 2020

20/12/2016
On 16 December 2016 the Swiss Federal Council ratified the Protocol on the extension to Croatia of the Free Movement of Persons Agreement between the EU and Switzerland. That means that in accordance with Article 13(6) of the Agreement associating Switzerland to Horizon 2020, as of 1 January 2017 the Association Agreement with Switzerland continues to apply and will be expanded to cover the whole of Horizon 2020

I Period as of 1 January 2017 onwards

1. What is the status of Swiss legal entities in Horizon 2020 projects for grant agreements (GAs) signed as from 1 January?

As from 1 January 2017 Switzerland is associated to the entire Horizon 2020. In practical terms this means that for all Horizon 2020 projects for which the GA is signed as from 1 January the Swiss participants are automatically eligible for funding and may count towards the minimum number of participants required for a project (see the eligibility criteria for funding and participation under Regulation 1290/2013 on Horizon 2020 Rules for participation).

2. Will this affect the status of Swiss legal entities in on-going projects?

The status of Swiss legal entities in all on-going projects, for which the GAs have already been signed before 1 January 2017 remains unchanged.

3. What are the typical rights and obligations of Switzerland, as a fully associated country to H2020?

As an associated country to the whole of Horizon 2020, Switzerland has the right to send observers to meetings of all the different configurations of the committee which is responsible for the implementation of H2020. It will also have the right to send observers to the Board of Governors of the JRC and the right to participate in all ERA related bodies as an observer.

Switzerland is obliged to pay a financial contribution to the Union budget calculated on the basis of a ratio between its GDP and the sum of the Member States of Union GDP in line with the terms of the Association Agreement.

4. What about Switzerland’s participation as a State in Art. 185 and Art. 187 initiatives under Horizon 2020?

Regarding actions under Art. 185 and Art. 187 initiatives in Horizon 2020, as of 1 January 2017 Switzerland is to be treated as an Associated Country and therefore participate in these initiatives. As a consequence, Switzerland is entitled to participate in the legal structures created in conformity with the decisions and regulations that have been adopted for these initiatives.

5. What about participation of Swiss entities in actions under Art. 185 and Art. 187 initiatives in Horizon 2020?

As of 1 January 2017 Swiss entities are to be treated as entities from an Associated Country in relation to participation in Art 185 and Art 187 initiatives and they will be eligible for participation and funding in accordance with the conditions set out in the Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation in conjunction with the relevant basic acts. In relation to already on-going projects, i.e. where GAs following the calls launched by respective Article 185 and 187 initiatives were signed before 1 January 2017, the status of Swiss legal entities remains unaffected. This means that in such on-going projects they will continue to be treated as entities from a non-associated third country.

II Period from 15 September 2014 to 31 December 2016 ('partial' association)

During this period, the participation of Switzerland with an associated country status covers actions under: 

  • the "Excellent Science" pillar (the 1st pillar), containing the European Research Council, Future and Emerging Technologies, Research Infrastructures and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions; 
  • the specific objective “Spreading excellence and widening participation”; 
  • the Euratom Programme; and 
  • the activities carried out by the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion for Energy for 2014-2020.

In all other parts of the Horizon 2020 programme, Switzerland remains a non-associated third country participant until 1 January 2017. For more information on funding for Swiss 3 participants in such projects by the Swiss government, please see: http://www.h2020.ch/.

In relation to cooperation for fusion activities under the Euratom Programme the new agreement replaces the 1978 Fusion Cooperation Agreement.

The FAQ below outline in more detail what the aforementioned means in practice regarding the period from 15 September 2014 to 31 December 2016.

1. For which Horizon 2020 priorities are the Swiss entities treated as entities from an Associated Country between 15 September 2014 and 31 December 2016?

During this period Swiss legal entities can participate with a status of entities from an Associated Country in actions under the 1st pillar of Horizon 2020, namely the European Research Council, future and emerging technologies, Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions and research infrastructures as well as in actions under the specific objective “Spreading excellence and widening participation”. The same applies to calls under the Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (the Euratom Programme) complementing Horizon 2020.

2. What does it mean in practice?

Between 15 September 2014 and 31 December 2016 the Swiss participants can participate as entities from an Associated Country in the parts of Horizon 2020 described above and for which the submission deadline is after or on 15 September 2014. In practical terms this means that for these calls the Swiss participants are automatically eligible for funding and count towards the minimum number of participants required for a project (eligibility criteria). The same principle applies for the Euratom Programme.

3. What about Swiss legal entities status in other priorities of Horizon 2020 between 15 September 2014 and 31 December 2016?

During this period Swiss legal entities continue being eligible for participation in all actions under Horizon 2020, other than those covering the 1st pillar, as entities from any industrialised third country not associated to Horizon 2020. This means that in actions under the Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges pillars of Horizon 2020, Swiss participants are not automatically eligible for funding and will not count towards the minimum number of participants required for a project (eligibility criteria) if the GA is signed before 1 January 2017.