Horizon Europe: Concerns about Britain’s engagement reach a peak

Managing Director of the Russell Group of Research Intensive Universities in the UK, Dr. Tim Bradshaw warns that the UK’s opportunity to become an associate member of the European Union’s Horizon Europe research funding program may soon expire. He was quoted by Times Higher Education as saying that negotiations between the European Union and Great Britain are on the verge of collapse.

Bradshaw appeals to heads of European research institutions to influence their governments and stress the urgency of the association. The Russell Group has worked hard to get the engagement part of the Brexit deal done, and for the UK government to announce that it will support associate membership financially.

The government and researchers are looking for alternatives

According to Bradshaw, it is true that the British government is also working on alternatives to funding from “Horizon Europe”. However, in order to implement this, Great Britain could no longer wait for the association. Many researchers who have received a European Research Council (ERC) grant are already planning to leave Great Britain. To be eligible for funding through “Horizon Europe”, they must work at a research institution located in a country in the European Union or an associated Member State.

According to the Brexit agreement in December 2020, Great Britain can in principle become an associate member of “Horizon Europe”, but Great Britain and the EU Commission have not yet been able to agree on the details. The agreement stands in the way of the Northern Ireland protocol. According to Bradshaw, British Science Minister George Freeman is eager for the UK to become an associate member. Bradshaw said the failure of the partnership plans would be a loss for both sides, including the European Union.

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