The Nobel Prize winners support a petition for the Swiss and British association Horizon

A petition calling on the European Union, the United Kingdom and Switzerland to “quickly find association agreements” allowing the two countries to join Horizon Europe has been launched online.

the Stick to Science Campaign was launched by the Swiss federal research institutes École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and ETH Zurich, Universities UK International, the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society.

Early institutional signatories include other major European universities, funders and academic lobby groups. Among the more than 200 signatories who have put their names to the appeal so far are nine Nobel Laureates and three Fields Medal winners.

Other luminaries include Patrick Flandrin, President of the French Academy of Sciences; Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society; and Antoine Petit, President of the National Center for Scientific Research.

“It’s time to stop playing politics and put people’s interests first. This means closing the deals with Horizon Europe and once again facilitating the best of scientific cooperation,” said Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society.

“Throughout the Brexit process, we and our colleagues across Europe have maintained that it is in our common interests to be part of this programme. It has been agreed by the UK and the EU in the framework of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement – ​​but the process has now stalled,” said Vivienne Stern, Director of UUK International.

While campaigners in the UK and Switzerland have found a common cause, the details of the political machinations between the two countries and the EU are quite different.

The Swiss government pulled out of negotiations on a broader treaty with the EU in May 2021. The European Commission removed the country from a list of countries to join Horizon Europe a month later.

In the months that followed, the commission said it was unable to discuss next steps towards association until the Swiss government returned to the table for broader discussions.

By contrast, the UK agreed on the terms under which it would join Horizon and completed talks in December 2020, but final approval of participation rests with a joint committee of the UK commission.

When the committee first met in December 2021, commission staff confirmed that the delay in signing was due to broader political difficulties.

“We just want all parties to get on with it and fast-track association for the UK and for Switzerland, and not allow other issues to get in the way,” Ms Stern said.

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Andrew B. Reiter