The EU blocks British scientists from funding Horizon Europe amid Brexit tensions


The UK’s delay in joining Horizon Europe is a concern for scientists, while British researchers have lost leading roles in EU projects.

The EU has blocked scientists in the UK from joining its €95 billion research program Horizon Europe as disputes over post-Brexit Northern Ireland continue.

According to Politico, an official letter has been sent to a British politician saying that Brussels will not let the UK participate in Horizon Europe while the problems related to post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland drag on.

EU Ambassador to the UK João Vale de Almeida said it was “very unfortunate” that British scientists were being “collateral damaged” by the dispute, the Financial Times reported.

The issue stems from the UK’s recent plans to rewrite elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which protects the Good Friday Agreement.

Last week, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said the EU would respond “with all the measures at its disposal” if the UK tabled a bill disapplying elements of the protocol.

Horizon Europe started in Ireland and other EU countries in early 2021 and will run until 2027, directly following the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

With a budget of €95.5 billion, the programme’s overarching objectives are to strengthen science and technology in the EU, strengthen the region’s innovation capacity and competitiveness, and conduct research projects that serve EU priorities.

Although it was envisaged that the UK would be a partner of Horizon Europe, there have been ongoing delays in formalizing an agreement that would allow UK-based scientists, researchers and companies access on the same terms as in EU countries to receive funding under the EU program.

concerns among scientists

The delays have raised concerns among research groups, who have been pushing for open collaboration between UK and EU scientists. In a letter presented to the Financial Times, the Russell Group, which represents 24 British universities, called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to break the deadlock.

said the Russell group on twitter last week that the UK’s association with Horizon Europe would be a win-win “at a time when working together across Europe is more important than ever”.

The standoff between the UK and the EU has already caused problems for British scientists.

According to the Guardian, Cambridge University astrophysicist Dr. Nicholas Walton to step down from his coordinating role in an upcoming European Space Agency project, having been told British scientists cannot assume leadership roles until the country’s membership of Horizon Europe is ratified.

Other British scientists face the dilemma of whether to move to the EU or hand over management of projects to an EU body, the Guardian reported.

The European Commission came under pressure last November when a joint statement was issued by more than 1,000 universities, 56 science academies and 33 rectors’ associations, calling on them to complete or risk the UK’s association with Horizon Europe, “current and jeopardizing future plans for cooperation”. .

In December, the Royal Irish Academy also called on the Irish government to help complete the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe, saying the continued delays are jeopardizing research partnerships.

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