The European Commission is ready to start talks on Switzerland’s association to Horizon Europe, research commissioner Iliana Ivanova has confirmed in a post on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

Ivanova, who is the European commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, posted her message on 22 November, a day after the commission’s executive vice-president Maroš Šefčovič posted that the organisation had ‘endorsed the common understanding’ with Switzerland, which had been reached after ‘18 months of exploratory talks’. ‘It will frame the negotiation of a broad package between the EU and Switzerland,’ he continued. ‘This is a welcome and important step in our bilateral relationship.’

The news was welcomed by many on X, including secretary-general of the League of European Research Universities, Kurt Deketelaere and Stick to Science, a campaign for an open and inclusive European research area, who both described it as positive news.

Switzerland was ousted from the EU’s research programmes, including Horizon Europe, Euratom and Digital Europe, in 2021 due to political tensions between the commission and the Swiss government over a collapsed trade deal. In 2022, scientists warned that R&D in the country was suffering and many feared that the chance of it rejoining the programmes was becoming increasingly unlikely.