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Switzerland seeking to join six European infrastructure networks

Infrastructures are consortia in areas including biobanking and carbon monitoring

The Swiss government has submitted a proposal to the national parliament to join six EU-backed research infrastructures, to give researchers in Switzerland better access to biobanks and other data networks.

The infrastructures are all European Research Infrastructure Consortia, meaning they have been awarded an EU legal designation granting them benefits, including around tax, although their primary purpose is to facilitate research.

Presently, Switzerland participates in eight Erics, but only as an observer, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation explained on 13 April.

Observer status allows Swiss researchers to cooperate with European partners in certain areas and also helps to make data collection and analysis more compatible between countries.

But as a mere observer it is “not possible for researchers from Swiss universities and research institutions to exploit the full potential of international cooperation,” the secretariat said.

The Swiss Federal Council is therefore seeking membership in six Erics: Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure; Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives; Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities; European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network; European Plate Observing System; and Integrated Carbon Observation System.

If the request is approved by the parliament, Switzerland will pay each Eric a membership fee of between CHF 50,000 (€49,000) and CHF 150,000 per year.

The Federal Council has also proposed a legal amendment that would give it the power to join Erics without seeking parliamentary approval in future.