EU halts research, educational talks with Switzerland

Updated: 2014-02-17 09:17


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The EU allows some non-EU countries to participate in its Horizon 2020 program, which allocates grants to fund world-class science projects, and Erasmus+.

Under the previous EU research program, which ended last year, Swiss researchers were awarded 1.8 billion euros in EU funding for research in areas such as information technology, health and nanosciences, EU science commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, said in a speech in Berne last month.

Erasmus+ will provide opportunities for more than 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain work experience or volunteer abroad.

In an interview with Reuters last week, Barroso hinted at more far-reaching consequences from the vote, saying Switzerland could not enjoy all the benefits of the EU, the world's biggest market, without reciprocal access.

While he did not spell out any specific sanctions, Barroso implied that Swiss people could lose the right to live and work in the EU, and Swiss companies might also face obstacles.

Swiss government spokesman Philipp Schwander said earlier on Sunday that Switzerland could not sign the labor market pact with Croatia in the agreed form "due to the new constitutional provision provided by the February 9 vote."

He said Switzerland was still keen to seal the deal with Croatia in a way that took the vote into account and did not discriminate against Croatian workers.

The referendum, backed by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), has sent Swiss diplomats scrambling to contain the damage in Brussels.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga will be in Austria for a previously planned trip on Monday, while Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter will fly to Berlin to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday.

Swiss newspapers were full of suggestions for what to do next, including calls by the Socialist Party for a new vote.

Swiss business leaders say they are increasingly concerned about other popular votes coming up, including one on May 18 to install the world's highest minimum wage, 22 Swiss francs ($24.17) an hour. Another, set for late in the year, seeks to cap population growth through immigration at 0.2 percent a year. ($1 = 0.7307 euros)

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