The reality for UK and Swiss researchers without association to Horizon Europe

UK and Switzerland have traditionally been part of the European scientific community. But countries are still left out

UK and Switzerland have traditionally been part of the European scientific community. But countries are still left out of the Horizon Europe programme, which requires finding alternative ways to finance scientists from these countries.

This situation, which has arisen in connection with recent political events (Brexit and Switzerland’s unwillingness to expand relations with Brussels), will not change shortly.

Yves Flückiger, president of the Swiss universities umbrella body: “We seem to be glued in a situation which moves us a little further away each month from the win-win situation we had for science in Europe, with Switzerland and the UK acting as strong contributors to the EU research programmes.” 

Application to Horizon Europe calls

British researchers can still apply for the Horizon Europe program, Swiss ones – in most cases, not.

The UK is technically on its way to the association so that scientists can apply for grants under the programme. Problems arise at the stage of signing an agreement and receiving money with an association still not ratified, which is where the UK’s guarantee should step in.

The situation in Switzerland is entirely different. The country is not even considering the possibility of an association, as with the example of the UK. Swiss researchers are therefore completely excluded from so-called mono-beneficiary grants like European Research Council grants, MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships, and European Innovation Council Accelerator grants.

The one exception to this rule is that 2021 calls for ERC Starting and Consolidator grants, plus the first round of EIC accelerator grants in 2021. 

The situation with research consortia 

Both countries are eligible to apply for the Horizon Europe programme under the consortium, but with some restrictions. For example, British and Swiss partners cannot act as coordinators in such projects (only in exceptional cases where they are deemed essential by the EU).

But according to the Horizon programme, in such cases, researchers from non-associated countries are called ‘associated partners.’

It is also worth noting that Switzerland and the UK are considering alternatives to Horizon Europe, even as they stress that association remains their priority. 

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Source: David Matthews, Science Business
Picture: Pexels