April 25, 2024

Dispute in the UK over access to Horizon Europe – EURACTIV.com

The Scottish government has urged the UK government to immediately secure its participation in Horizon Europe, the EU’s multi-billion research programme. It was previously reported that Rishi Sunak’s government is preparing an alternative program under British leadership.

In a message on Tuesday (March 7), Scotland’s Minister for Higher and Further Education, Jamie Hepburn, addressed the UK’s Minister for Science and Technology, Michelle Donnellan. He urged them to “start talks about legal association with them as soon as possible”. [dem Programm] To include “to formalize access to Horizon Europe.

The UK has been excluded from the €95.5 billion science funding program for two years. Because the European Commission has linked access to partnership status under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement to implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Following last week’s announcement of a “Windsor Framework Agreement” with the EU on the protocol, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would begin “urgently” to finalize the UK’s status as an associate member.

Hepburn added that he was “also concerned that the UK government seemed to assume that if we successfully linked up with Horizon Europe, the participation fee would be charged at the point of re-entry, although this was never guaranteed”.

However, Donnellan said on Monday that an agreement must be reached to link the UK with Horizon Europe on “acceptable and favorable terms” and refused to offer any guarantee of eventual UK participation in the scheme.

It was previously reported that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak favored an alternative program led by the United Kingdom that would include working with non-EU and European countries.

The Donnellan Department also confirmed that it has extended its commitment to pay researchers for Horizon Europe grants until June.

The impasse on access to Horizon Europe has prompted UK ministers to pledge to create an alternative National Research and Development Fund and to give researchers and companies at least as much money as they would get from the 2021-2027 EU budget period as the EU programme.

The government announced last week that £1.6bn originally earmarked by the government to encourage linkage to EU programs had instead been taken back from the Treasury. The move was greeted with dismay by the British research community.

Ratification of the Windsor Framework is likely to take several months and a vote in the UK Parliament is unlikely before the end of April. In the UK, there is little hope that universities and researchers in the country will get Horizon funding any time soon.

“It’s hard to wave a magic wand and fix all this,” British officials said. It was suggested that British researchers had been excluded from the program for two years and were “totally disadvantaged”.

[Bearbeitet von Zoran Radosavljevic]