UK universities cut off from £80bn EU science fund: experts

Henry Jackson Society researcher Stepan Stepanenko says British universities and businesses will lose if the government cannot resolve its dispute with the EU over the £80bn Horizon Europe academic funding programme. prize.

He said the government had “shot itself” by rejecting the Northern Ireland Protocol, turning against the EU and jeopardizing Britain’s role in Horizon Europe.

Horizon Europe’s website says it is “the EU’s leading funding program for research and innovation.”

The fund “will tackle climate change, help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and boost the competitiveness and growth of the EU.

“This program will foster collaboration in the formulation, support and implementation of EU policy, and enhance the impact of research and innovation, while tackling global challenges,” he added.

Earlier this week, the UK government wrote to the European Commission to end “persistent delays” that have prevented the UK from accessing Horizon Europe, which provides millions of dollars in grants for scientific research projects. I sent that.

At Horizon Europe, Principal Investigators (PIs), researchers who develop ideas for scientific research, apply for funding.

PIs may apply in relation to smaller academic institutions such as the University of Tartu, Estonia, but also to more prestigious institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge, University College London, Imperial College London, which are among the highest ranked universities. You can switch to one partner. in Europe.

The government has said it wants to become a “scientific superpower” and wants 2.4% of UK GDP to be spent on science and technology research and development by 2027.

But this month, the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee released a report saying the 2.4% target was “ambitious” and that the government’s international science policy was “somewhat inconsistent.”

UK universities are ‘frozen’

Chris Pearce, Deputy Head of Research at the University of Glasgow, told the Commission: Every university will give you an example of a project they are stumped for. We are not included in new projects because they are considered a risk. “

In June, the European Research Council announced the termination of 115 grants to UK-based researchers. Nineteen of them agreed to move to EU countries to keep their funds.

Foreign Minister Liz Truss said the EU “is in clear violation of our agreement and repeatedly seeks to politicize critical scientific cooperation by refusing to finalize access to these critical programs. There are,’ he said.

In the post-Brexit woes, the EU has filed a lawsuit against the UK for failing to comply with the Northern Ireland Protocol that was negotiated as part of Brexit but later rejected by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government. . A new bill is being pushed into parliament by the Truss, and critics say it will spark a trade war with Europe.

Professor James Wilsdon of the University of Sheffield told the BBC that he believed there would be no resolution to the dispute over Horizon Europe and that the government would embark on its own scientific funding programme, Plan B.

Stepanenko said the so-called Plan B was missing the point. It is the ability to work with European universities and attract people to the UK. “

He said Horizon Europe was effectively functioning as a “brain drain” in the UK’s direction, which was unlikely to be sustained by the government’s own programme.

The UK has negotiated a UK-EU Trade Cooperation Agreement (TCA) for 2021. This included access to “a range of EU science and innovation programs.”

European Minister Graham Stuart said: The UK and EU need to work together more than ever to address common challenges, from net zero to global health and energy security. “

Dr. Tim Bradshaw, CEO of the Russell Group of Universities, said in a statement: Both sides of the channel have consistently called on all parties to provide what was agreed upon in the withdrawal agreement. “

Labor’s shadow foreign minister, David Lammy, said the government’s “reckless and law-breaking approach” to the Northern Ireland Protocol was undermining UK universities’ access to the Horizon programme.

Chris Summers


Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist with a wide range of national coverage, with a particular interest in crime, police and law.

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