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Leru decries Swiss exclusion from EU master’s scheme


University group “dismayed” by European Commission’s “harsh and disproportionate” decision

The European Commission has decided to exclude Switzerland from a partnership scheme it runs for higher education institutions offering master’s-level programmes in translation, according to a university group, which described the move as “unacceptable”.

The League of European Research Universities, which has two Swiss members, decried the move to bar Switzerland from the European Master’s in Translation scheme, which provides a quality label and network for the translation programmes.

In a statement it published on 30 August, Leru urged the Commission to reconsider its decision for the 2024-29 period and allow Switzerland’s participation in the EMT scheme.

Dismayed reaction

Leru said it was “dismayed” by the decision, which it said was based on the state of negotiations on Switzerland’s association to the EU’s Erasmus+ academic exchange programme.

Switzerland has been locked out of Erasmus+—as well as the EU’s Horizon Europe R&D programme—for the past two years after its government walked away from broader talks on the country’s relationship with the bloc due to disagreements on issues including legal jurisdiction and the free movement of citizens.

But Leru said that Switzerland not being part of Erasmus+ previously did not prevent it from being one of the founding members of the EMT, or from renewing its membership in the past.

“As the legal framework has not changed since then, Switzerland’s exclusion at this point seems to be purely of a political nature,” it said.

“The consequences of the exclusion of Swiss universities from the EMT at this particular point would be dire for the entire five-year period of the next call for EMT membership.”

‘Harsh’ decision

Swiss universities’ exclusion from the EMT would be “particularly harsh and disproportionate”, the group said, given Switzerland’s well-established cooperation with EU partners in translator training, the country’s active role in the bloc’s European Education Area and the progress of wider EU-Swiss negotiations.

It added that one of its Swiss member universities, the University of Geneva, is an active member in European and international networks in translation, as well as being one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious training and research centres in the field. The University of Geneva will be “hit hard” by the Commission’s decision, Leru said.

Commission response

Responding to the criticisms, a spokesperson for the Commission said that the EMT network “is open to applications from universities based in EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries for EU membership, European Economic Area members and countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy”.

They added: “Switzerland does not fall in any of these categories hence there is currently no legal basis for membership of universities in Switzerland in the EMT network.”

Update 1/9 – This article was updated with the response from the Commission spokesperson