«It would be strange if Switzerland was not a part of it»

A conversation with the coordination team of the EU climate project RESCUE

«Everyone was interested in participating, but no one wanted to coordinate the project. Finally, we said, ok, then it will be us from the Barcelona Supercomputing Center BSC doing it,» the climate researcher Raffaele Bernardello tells us during our conversation via Zoom. Together with his colleague Marsia Ellina he is responsible for the coordination of RESCUE, conducted by a consortium of 17 European universities and research institutions and funded by Horizon Europe. RESCUE includes most of the top European actors in climate research. It is therefore no surprise that ETH Zurich climate scientist Sonia Seneviratne was brought into the RESCUE consortium as a research partner. The two coordinators are delighted. «Sonia is one of the world’s leading climate researchers and her expertise is very important for the project,» Raffaele Bernardello states and adds: «Swiss climate research enjoys an excellent reputation and has been part of all important European research projects for decades. The idea that Switzerland would not be able to take part in a European project like this because of the current political situation is very strange and unimaginable for us.» Marsia Ellina, who is responsible for the administrative project management, adds more reasons why she is delighted about ETH Zurichs participation: «We bear a great responsibility for the whole consortium and it is very important that we can rely on the project partners in every respect, scientifically, financially and administratively. With ETH Zurich, the cooperation has been transparent, efficient and trusting at all levels from the very beginning, and the third-country status was not a problem. We have the certainty that it has everything under control and that the money from Switzerland will come.» This reliability is essential, because the absence of a single partner could jeopardise the entire project. The high esteem in which ETH Zurich and its climate researchers are held is also reflected in a recent decision by the consortium: it has entrusted Sonia Seneviratne with the management of a weighty work package, a sub-area of the research project. The example could set a precedent. Horizon Europe cooperation projects are open to all researchers in Switzerland. They are just not allowed to coordinate them. But maybe they don’t want to anyway.

Although Switzerland is still not associated to Horizon Europe, a big part of the programme is open for Swiss institutions. Our researchers can participate in most of the collaborative projects as Associated Partners, lead Work Packages and take up an active role in the management. The first Horizon Europe projects in this constellation have already been approved by the European Commission and the budget for the Swiss partner is covered by SERI. 

Please contact our office if you would like to check your options and makes sure that you are eligible for your call of interest. 

Backup measures will be in place for the programme parts that Switzerland is excluded from (e.g. ERC, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowships). Please contact us for more information: /