The rectors of the League of European Research Universities [LERU], during a meeting in Helsinki from 16-17 May 2014, have reflected on the present relationship between Switzerland and the European Union [EU].
Although respecting the Swiss vote to limit the immigration and the consequent EU decision to exclude Switzerland from the Erasmus+ programme and downgrade Switzerland from associated to third country in Horizon 2020 calls, the rectors regret the negative impact this will have on the strong Swiss research, innovation and education community.
The present Swiss status of non-associated country unfortunately also disadvantages researchers and students in EU member states, seen the longstanding and excellent collaboration between Swiss and other European universities.
The LERU rectors have taken note of the positive initiatives taken by the Swiss Federal Council on 30 April 2014, aiming at re-launching the discussions between Switzerland and the EU, especially in the field of research, innovation and education (Horizon 2020 and Erasmus +). The initial positive, but prudent, reaction of the European Union is very encouraging.
The LERU rectors express the wish that the negotiation process between the EU and Switzerland on research, innovation and education can be resumed as soon as possible, and call upon all involved to act in such a way that appropriate solutions could emerge for Switzerland’s participation in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus +.
At a moment that the construction of the European Research Area is progressing significantly, it would be a pity to leave a country behind that has already contributed so much to that EU project.