Referendum vote to limit EU immigration has led to national research spending being cuts of 7%
Public R&D spending in Switzerland has fallen by 7% in the past year, principally because the nation was prevented from applying for EU research funding, according to the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. This check on Swiss research collaboration on EU-funded projects was in response to a vote that limited EU immigration from other member states.
In February 2014, the Swiss voted in a referendum to block Croatians from living and working in Switzerland, after Croatia became the newest member of the EU. Following this decision, the EU ceased all negotiation over Switzerland’s participation as an ‘associate member’ in the Horizon 2020 research programme. As a non-EU member, the country could only gain full access to European research funding if they agreed to all EU rules and regulations. In September 2014, Switzerland was allowed partial participation in EU research programmes until 2016, while efforts are made to reach a compromise on the immigration question.
Switzerland’s contribution to EU R&D programmes subsequently fell by 83% in 2014 from CHF453 million (£300 million) to CHF77 million. CHF500 million was originally earmarked for European research projects in 2014, but was also blocked as a result of the EU’s decision.