At a ceremony held at the Competitiveness Council in Luxembourg 25 June 2007, the European Communities and Switzerland signed an agreement enabling Switzerland to join the 7th Research Framework Programmes(EC/Euratom). The agreement will allow Swiss research institutes, universities and companies to take part in all aspects of the programmes, on the same terms as their partners from the EU Member States. Switzerland and the European Communities will thus carry on the successful research partnership they have enjoyed since 2004, when Switzerland joined the 6th Research Framework Programme, which led to the participation of more than 1800 Swiss research entities in FP6 research projects. Switzerland's higher education institutes were particularly strong participants in FP6, making up 59% of all Swiss participants, ahead of industry with 29%. Swiss research entities participated in all activities under FP6 and were strongest in Information Society Technologies (IST). It is estimated that Switzerland's association will bring an additional €1.4 million to the FP7 budget of about €54 billion. Janez Poto?nik, European Science and Research Commissioner and Ms. Annette Schavan, German Federal Education and Research Minister and President of the Research Council, signed for the European Communities. For Switzerland, the agreement was signed by the Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, Mr. Pascal Couchepin.
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