Switzerland renews association with European Union research programmes

January 19, 2004

Brussels, 16 Januar 2004

The European Commission today renewed its scientific and technological cooperation agreement with Switzerland. The new agreement covers Swiss participation in the Sixth Research Framework Programme 2002-2006 of the European Union from 1 January 2004. Switzerland will contribute €400 million to the overall budget (which is around €20 billion), which also covers its participation in the Euratom programme. In the first calls for proposals under the Sixth Framework Programme, projects with Swiss participation had a success rate higher than the average for the 15 EU Member States. Swiss organisations were already able to participate in the Fifth Framework Programme 1998-2002, but on a "project by project" basis and thus without the possibility of Community funding. Nevertheless, Swiss partners have been involved in more than 1 500 research projects supported by the EU. Swiss participation involved both universities (14%), companies (18%) and public research centres and bodies (20%). Swiss scientists have taken part in research projects in the fields of "Information technologies", "Quality of life" and "Environmental sciences" and "Sustainable development" with, among others, German, French, British and Italian partners.

"The European research area will benefit from the excellence of Swiss scientific and technological resources" stated Philippe Busquin, European Research Commissioner. "In return, Switzerland will take full advantage of the European area and contribute to its development. Switzerland has achieved a level of excellence in many sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals or informatics, which are all vital sectors for European competitiveness. Research is an area where contacts and cooperation can cross borders, since we now see scientists from all over the world working in partnerships thanks to European Union projects."

For the European Union the agreement was signed by Commissioner Busquin and Ambassador Ann Anderson, representing the Irish Presidency. For Switzerland, the head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, Pascal Couchepin, signed the agreement.

Switzerland and EU research programmes

The 6th Framework Programme (6th FRDP) is the main European instrument for funding research. Apart from the accession or candidate countries, Switzerland is, after the other countries of the EEA ("European Economic Area" which comprises Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) and Israel, the fifth country to have been fully associated with EU framework programmes. Following the first calls for proposals under the 6th FRDP, Swiss researchers (around 500) are involved in more than 300 projects for which funding is being negotiated.

By way of example, for the Sixth Framework Programme, a Swiss research centre is participating in the COBRA project which aims to combat antibiotic resistance (see also IP/03/1624 ). Under the Fifth Framework Programme, Swiss organisations were also involved in the following projects: BOJCAS (materials science in the aeronautical field), CERTIMARK (multimedia), CLOUDMAP 2 (research into climate change through the study of clouds) and BioBabel (management of molecular biology databases).

Funding of research in Switzerland

Over the years, Switzerland has consistently increased its investment in research. Today, it is one of those countries investing the most in research, since expenditure on research and technological development (R&D) accounts for 2.6% of its GDP. The European Union has set itself the target of achieving 3% of GDP for research by 2010, compared with a European average at present of around 2%.

More than two-thirds of Swiss spending on research is accounted for by the private sector, which is mainly concerned with chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and the electrical and metalworking industries. Switzerland is therefore one of the leading group of OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries which invest the most in research, behind Sweden (3.8%), Finland (3.3%), Japan (2.9%) and the USA (2.8%).

A specific and significant effort

The Federal Decree of 6 June 2002 on the funding of Swiss participation in European Union framework programmes allocated a commitment appropriation of CHF835 million (around €530 million) to finance Swiss participation in the Sixth Framework Programme during the period 2003 to 2006. A commitment appropriation of CHF34 million (around €22 million) has also been opened to finance accompanying measures over the same period.

For more information on the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Union, visit:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/fp6/index_en.html .

For more information on Swiss participation in the framework programme, visit:

http://www.euresearch.ch

or

http://www.bbw.admin.ch/html/pages/forschung/intfz-f.html

Examples of projects with Swiss participation:

    6th FRDP:
COBRA: see IP/03/1624

For more information: Prof. Brigitte Berger-Bächi, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Tel. +41 1 634 26 50, bberger@immv.unizh.ch

    5th FRDP:
BOJCAS: http://www.smr.ch/bojcas/

CERTIMARK: http://www.certimark.org/

CLOUDMAP 2: http://www-research.ge.ucl.ac.uk/cloudmap2/  

BioBabel: http://www.ebi.ac.uk/biobabel/

DN: IP/04/61 Date: 16/01/2004

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