The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) was created to support a coherent and strategy-oriented approach to policy making in the area of major research infrastructures in Europe. As Switzerland is not associated with Horizon Europe, the EU framework programme for research and innovation, the Swiss ESFRI delegation and Swiss experts in the Strategic Working Groups (SWG) will no longer be invited to participate in ESFRI meetings and activities. According to Hans Rudolf Ott, Chairperson of the Round Table on Swiss Representation in International Organisations and Research Infrastructures (RoTIORI), organised by the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT), Switzerland has lost an important means of contributing to the shaping of the European research landscape as a result of this decision, particularly in the field of major infrastructures. RoTIORI now expects pragmatic solutions to be developed in the interest of the European research landscape.
Non-association with Horizon Europe terminated Switzerland's membership of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) on 29 September 2022 as ESFRI states in its statutes that an association with Horizon Europe is a prerequisite for participation. ESFRI supports EU countries and countries associated with EU framework programmes in the establishment and further development of European research infrastructures. As part of this, ESFRI creates and publishes an influential roadmap for research funding every four years.
Switzerland was still involved in Roadmap 2021 through delegates to different working groups of ESFRI and, indeed, headed the working groups on energy and on social and cultural innovation. Should the status of Switzerland with regard to Horizon Europe not change, Switzerland will be excluded from monitoring the Roadmap 2021 to the same degree as, prospectively, participation in the design of Roadmap 2025.
Regardless of the situation relating to Horizon Europe, Switzerland is heavily integrated in the European research infrastructures landscape. It is home to highly developed infrastructures such as facilities of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, the Swiss Plasma Center (SPC) in Lausanne, the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano and the High Altitude Research Station Jungfraujoch. It is also an active member of organisations such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) as a founding member and depositary state. In particular, Switzerland is also the seat of CERN in Geneva. This international organisation has a membership of 23 states and hosts what is considered globally to be the leading infrastructure in the area of particle physics. Due to this situation, RoTIORI members regard the exclusion of Switzerland from ESFRI that has now occurred as unreasonable and expect a pragmatic solution to be found that enables the further involvement of Switzerland as an important stakeholder in ESFRI procedures.
RoTIORI provides a forum where researchers in Switzerland working on cost-intensive infrastructures, primarily in the areas of physics and astronomy, can benefit from an exchange with representatives of scientific institutions (swissuniversitites, the Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology [ETH], SNF and academies) and the Swiss federal government. What is being discussed is the involvement in and use of internationally oriented research infrastructures and organisations. In addition, periodic reports will be published on the resulting activities.