Brexit and EU research funding – some necessary certainty?

Last week the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, issued a statement, which inter alia contained the following assurance:

‘Where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funding projects while we are still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU. As a result, British businesses and universities will have certainty over future funding and should continue to bid for competitive EU funds while the UK remains a member of the EU.’

British universities will undoubtedly welcome this statement, which at any rate removes the financial risk they could face by applying for EU research funds at this point. The statement may not however resolve the main problem facing British universities in this context, which is that European universities are now reluctant to include UK institutions in research consortia at all, and will certainly not accept them as leaders of any consortium.

All of this underscores the importance of clarifying government policy in relation to EU research programmes, such as Horizon 2020. If it is thought desirable for Britain to continue in these programmes it would be useful to state this as a policy objective right now, to provide some re-assurance to European partners. There is no conceivable benefit for Britain not to be included.

This should be a government priority right now, not least because it also supports the case for the UK as a location for high value, knowledge-intensive foreign direct investment; a case that the Brexit decision has somewhat undermined as one of the potentially significant unintended consequences. It is time to act.

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6 Comments on “Brexit and EU research funding – some necessary certainty?”

  1. Vincent Says:

    These are the things that will just vanish in the wash of time. And soon enough the £ will lower enough to make exporting industry a reasonable option and much of the froth will vanish off the £ and it will become more like the DM of old. And if a program is worthy it won’t matter a whit who has the lead for the quality of the people or institutions themselves won’t change, that much.

  2. andyboal Says:

    I think that it wasn’t so much an unintended consequence as yet another instance of the Brexit “They will want us to work with them because we are British” blind optimism…

  3. jeffollerton Says:

    Although I appreciate what you’re saying here it’s unclear to me how British researchers can be included in EU funding schemes if the UK is not contributing to the pot that the EU is distributing. Or are you suggesting that the UK should continue to contribute to that pot? If so, is there any precedent of any other country doing so? It would be an interesting experiment.

    • no-name Says:

      “Or are you suggesting that the UK should continue to contribute to that pot? If so, is there any precedent of any other country doing so?”

      See: http://www.eu-norway.org/eu/Financial-contribution/ — last verified on August 18, 2016.

      “It is not possible to compare net payments between those of an EU Member State and those of a Non-Member state. However, Norway’s financial contributions related to our cooperation with the EU include the following:

      The European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement includes a goal to reduce social and economic disparities in the European Economic Area. Thus, the EEA EFTA States Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have contributed to European cohesion efforts through various financial mechanisms since the EEA Agreement entered into force in 1994.

      For the period 2014 – 2021, Norway’s annual contribution to 15 beneficialry states through the current EEA and Norway Grants scheme will be 391 million euro.

      Norway participates in a number of EU programmes through provisions in the EEA Agreement or on the basis of bilateral agreements with the EU. The largest are the Horizon 2020 and, Erasmus+, Galileo and Copernicus. Norway (and our EEA partners Iceland and Liechtenstein) contributes to the budget of the programmes we participate in. For the period 2014 – 2020, Norway’s average annual commitment is 447 million euro.

      Norway’s cooperation with the EU in the field of justice and home affairs, including participation in the Schengen cooperation and agreements on cooperation in various areas, also entails some financial contributions. The annual contribution in 2015 was almost 6 million Euro.

      In addition, for the period 2014 – 2020, Norway contributes around 25 million euro annually for our contribution in programmes under the European Territorial Cooperation INTERREG.

      The EEA EFTA states normally fund their participation in EU programmes and agencies by an amount corresponding to the relative size of their GDP compared to the GDP of the whole EEA (proportionality factor). The EEA EFTA states participation is hence on equal footing with EU member states.”


  4. We need clarity regarding a raft of decisions in connection with Brexit and the sooner the government gets moving on this the better.


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