In an attempt to put a stop to ongoing delays in the UK’s access to EU scientific research programmes like Horizon Europe, the government has begun official talks with the EU.
A process for formal talks to settle issues between the UK and EU is outlined in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
As part of the TCA in 2020, the UK secured access to a number of EU scientific and innovation programmes.
However, more than 18 months later, the EU is still refusing to finalise UK access, seriously harming both UK and EU Member States’ research and development efforts.
Due to the delays, the UK is unable to access Copernicus, an earth observation programme that provides information on climate change, as well as Horizon Europe, the EU’s main financing programme for research and innovation.
Euratom, the nuclear research programme, and access to programme services like Space Surveillance and Tracking are other impacted programmes.
The Government has now written to the European Commission in an effort to start a dispute resolution process and to press the EU to uphold its end of the bargain.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said:
The EU is in clear breach of our agreement, repeatedly seeking to politicise vital scientific cooperation by refusing to finalise access to these important programmes. We cannot allow this to continue. That is why the UK has now launched formal consultations and will do everything necessary to protect the scientific community.
Minister for Europe Graham Stuart said:
It is disappointing that the EU has not facilitated UK participation in the agreed scientific programmes, despite extensive UK engagement on the issue. Now more than ever the UK and the EU should be working together to tackle our shared challenges from net zero to global health and energy security. We look forward to constructive engagement through the formal consultations.
A win-win situation for the EU and the UK would result from the UK joining Horizon Europe.
The UK has some of the most research-intensive institutions in the world, is a pioneer in science and technology, and spearheaded the international fight to battle COVID-19.
Around £15 billion has been set aside by the UK only for Horizon Europe.
The UK’s participation in these programmes has been requested by the EU’s research and innovation community to the European Commission.
In order to continue working together to address the biggest economic and social problems, the UK government also pursues affiliation.
The government has devised an alternative set of programmes to assist UK scientists and researchers in the event that affiliation is not formalised:
outside European programmes, assisting UK R&D and joint research.
The UK Government welcomes constructive participation during consultations and is ready to cooperate with the European Commission to find a solution to this problem.