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Switzerland – Erasmus+: Symbolic engagement on the Bundesplatz

On Friday 9 February, several youth and student associations gathered on the Bundesplatz in Bern in Switzerland. After a public address, the organisers held a symbolic engagement ceremony between Switzerland and Erasmus+, Erasmus initiating the proposal. This initiative represents a call on the Federal Council to press ahead with negotiations on a re-association with the Erasmus+ programme. 

Exactly 10 years ago, on 9 February 2014, the Swiss population adopted the initiative against mass immigration which led to Switzerland being excluded from Erasmus+. Since then, Switzerland has implemented a parallel system for international mobility and cooperation. While this solution has been crucial in ensuring continued mobility to and from Switzerland, it does not fully substitute for Erasmus+. Not for Swiss institutions and students, nor for European institutions and students. To mark a symbolic end of this 10-year separation, the youth organisations Swiss Student Union, Swiss National Youth Council, ESN Switzerland, Intermundo and Young Enterprise Switzerland came together in Bern late on Friday morning. With the adoption of the negotiating mandate with the EU in December 2023, the current political context gives the organisers a glimmer of hope for re-association.  

The call for re-association received not only support from different Swiss politicians from across the political spectrum, but also from representatives of the Swiss cantons, the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education, swissuniversities, the ETH Board or even international organisations such as the European Students’ Union. It is now up to the Swiss parliament to push the EU-CH dossier forward, but support is also needed across the Swiss border to further strengthen exchange and cooperation in the European Education Area.