The Confederation will provide funding for transitional measures for the 2024 Starting and Consolidator Grants of the European Research Council (ERC). This was decided by the Federal Council on 25 October 2023. Owing to Switzerland’s current non-association status in the Horizon package, researchers here are not eligible to participate in the corresponding European calls for proposals.
On 16 August, the Federal Council decided to enact further sanctions against Russia. This aligns Switzerland with the EU, which adopted these latest measures as part of its eleventh package of sanctions. The new measures take effect at 6pm on Wednesday, 16 August. More than one hundred additional individuals and entities were already added to the sanctions list on 28 June.
Graphene nanoribbons have outstanding properties that can be precisely controlled. Researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich, in collaboration with partners from Peking University, the University of Warwick and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, have succeeded in attaching electrodes to individual atomically precise nanoribbons, paving the way for precise characterization of the fascinating ribbons and their possible use in quantum technology.
Switzerland and Spain agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the field of research and innovation. The two countries signed a joint declaration this afternoon in Madrid to encourage and support their respective research and innovation communities to undertake bilateral and multilateral activities. This instrument will intensify cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the fields of sustainability, energy, life sciences and health.
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin will visit Brazil from 3 to 9 July with a large economic and science delegation. The focus of the trip will be a meeting with Brazilian Vice President and Minister of the Economy Geraldo Alckmin and the free trade agreement between EFTA and Mercosur. A further aim of the visit is to strengthen cooperation in education, research and innovation. A total of three memoranda of understanding are to be signed.
State Secretary Helene Budliger Artieda and Czech Minister of Finance Zbynêk Stanjura signed a bilateral agreement in Prague implementing Switzerland's second contribution to selected EU Member States. Switzerland is allocating CHF 76.9 million towards a programme in the Czech Republic. This visit underlines Switzerland’s interest in further enhancing its already very good bilateral relations with the Czech Republic.
Switzerland and Latvia have signed a bilateral agreement implementing the second Swiss contribution to selected EU member states. Under the agreement Switzerland will allocate CHF 40.4 million towards programmes in Latvia in the fields of polluted site remediation, applied research, vocational education and training and healthcare.
Meeting in London on 14 June 2023, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and British Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch signed an agreement on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications. For Switzerland, this is the second such agreement signed with a partner outside the EU, the first one being the agreement signed with Quebec in 2022.
The Federal Council decided on 24 May to adopt transitional measures relating to the Horizon package 2021–2027 (Horizon Europe, Euratom programme, ITER and Digital Europe Programme). It will provide CHF 625 million in funding for 2023 calls for proposals. Rapid association to the Horizon package remains the Federal Council's goal.
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Kemi Badenoch, marked the beginning of negotiations on further developing the bilateral trade agreement. The first round of negotiations will take place in London in May.
The topics of discussion at the working meeting on 21 April in Bern were cooperation between the two countries in the fields of education, research and innovation, the second Swiss contribution to selected EU states and the Institute for Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Technology (INSAIT), which was opened in Sofia in 2022 with support from Switzerland.
The REPO Task Force was set up by the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) and the EU together with Australia. Cooperation at the technical level is running smoothly, and Switzerland therefore sees no need to formally join the REPO Task Force at present. Should membership prove to be in Switzerland's interest in the future, the Federal Council may re-evaluate the situation.
On 14 April 2023, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and the Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François‑Philippe Champagne, agreed to increase science, technology and innovation research partnerships between the two countries.
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin welcomed Colombia’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Arturo Luna on a courtesy visit to Bern on 1 March. Mr Luna also met with State Secretary Martina Hirayama. The talks focused on strengthening bilateral research and innovation cooperation between the two countries.
At its meeting on 15 February, the Federal Council approved the mandate to launch negotiations on enhancing the bilateral trade agreement between Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK). The decision is subject to consultation with the relevant parliamentary committees and the Conference of Cantonal Governments.
State Secretary Martina Hirayama participated in the informal meeting of the EU ministers responsible for research and innovation on 7 and 8 February in Stockholm, Sweden. The biannual event focused on a policy debate about open science in research infrastructures and public publications. This topic is a priority of the Swedish chair. In addition, State Secretary Hirayama held bilateral discussions with her counterparts from Austria, Denmark, Germany, Portugal and Spain as well as other informal exchanges.
Bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the WEF
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos for the sixth time. There he met with several political and economic leaders, in particular German Vice-Chancellor R. Habeck, European Commission President U. von der Leyen, US Secretary of Labor M. Walsh, Kosovar Prime Minister A. Kurti, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister I. Svyrydenko, Thai Deputy Prime Minister A. Charnvirakul and US Trade Representative K. Tai. The Federal Councillor also attended an informal meeting of WTO ministers on the sidelines of the WEF.
On 16 January, Federal Councillors Guy Parmelin and Albert Rösti met with Robert Habeck, the German Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, at the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos. The talks covered a range of matters including bilateral economic relations and Switzerland's relations with the EU. Against the backdrop of the tense situation in the energy sector worldwide, the three ministers also discussed common challenges in the field of energy security.