Tuesday

28th Mar 2017

EU suspends Swiss talks on research and education

  • The Cern nuclear research centre in Switzerland. Tenders under the Horizon 2020 programme opened in December (Photo: oalsaker)

EU-Swiss talks on EU-funded research and education programmes have been suspended following Bern's refusal to sign a reciprocal work permit deal with Croatia.

“There was another round of negotiations due and we had said it wouldn’t take place until Switzerland had signed the protocol with Croatia,” European Commission spokesman Joe Hennon told this website on Monday (17 February).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Hennon says both the research programme Horizon 2020 and its Erasmus+ student exchange is conditioned on free movement.

The move to suspend talks follows a decision by Switzerland on Saturday to not allow in Croat workers. The move comes after its recent referendum decision to curb migration.

“The agreement with Croatia cannot be signed in the form that was agreed on due to the new constitutional provision provided by the February 9 vote," said Swiss government spokesman Philipp Schwander.

The referendum, passed by a narrow margin, asked Swiss lawmakers to put forward plans within the next three years to limit the number of foreigners who enter the land-locked country.

The Swiss government is set to outline over the summer how it intends to implement the reforms, which could affect over a million EU citizens who live in Switzerland and its 230,000 cross border daily commuters.

About 430,000 Swiss live in the EU.

Meanwhile, calls for tenders for the EU’s multi-billion Horizon2020 programme kicked off in December.

At least three EU member states or associated countries are needed to form a consortium partnership in order to be eligible for the research grants.

But with negotiations suspended on making Switzerland an associated country in Horizon2020, calls made in December involving Swiss researchers may be in jeopardy.

“We need to have an agreement in place or know what the situation is in terms of what Switzerland wants to do in potentially funding its own research,” said European commission spokesperson for research Michael Jennings.

Students are also likely to be affected.

Over 2,700 Swiss students benefited from the Erasmus programme between 2011 and 2012, with another 3,150 set to benefit in the next academic year.

The Swiss referendum, brokered by the rightwing populist Swiss People's Party (SVP), could trigger a wider so-called guillotine clause that would suspend other EU pacts.

The EU and Switzerland are bound by more than one hundred bilateral agreements.

The two signed a free trade agreement in 1972 followed by a pact in 1999 which covers the free movement of persons, technical trade barriers, public procurement, agriculture and air and land transport.

A second package signed in 2004 covers areas such as Switzerland's participation in Schengen, EU asylum laws, and agreements on taxation of savings and combatting fraud.

A poll published on Sunday in the Sonntags Blick newspaper suggests 74 percent of people surveyed oppose ending the EU agreements.

Switzerland is the EU’s third largest trading partner, after the US and China, and ahead of Russia and Japan.

Analysis

Lukashenka: End of an era?

The political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season began, but greater changes loom after 23 years of dictatorship.

Investigation

How the Italian mafia found a Dutch home

One of the biggest mafia trials in Europe in recent years is about to end. Members of the Crupi clan are accused of smuggling vast amounts of cocaine from South America to Italy, using the Netherlands as their main hub.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  2. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  3. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  4. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  6. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  7. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  8. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  10. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  11. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  12. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People