The UK and the EU sign a treaty; UK researchers secure access to EU funding post Brexit
Since the announcement of Brexit researchers in the United Kingdom (UK) have been concerned about their future mainly on account of funding and collaboration related challenges they could face. As the post-Brexit transition period was coming to an end, on December 24, the European Union (EU) and the UK struck an agreement that ends the uncertainty around UK’s participation in Horizon Europe program.
The agreement treaty that spans 1,246 pages confirms that the UK will continue to participate in five funding programs under the “associate” status. In other words, the UK will pay association fees to the EU, which will be based on the gross domestic product of the UK, and researchers in the UK will be able to apply for funding.
Apart from Horizon Europe, the UK will continue to play a role in programs such as the Copernicus Earth observation satellite program, the European Space Surveillance and Tracking system, the international fusion energy project ITER, and nuclear research project under the Euratom agreement. It will, however, have to forgo its access to the Galileo satellite navigation system. Mike Galsworthy, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who co-founded “Scientists for EU” an anti-Brexit campaign group, described this as “massive loss” as the UK had contributed about €1.4 billion, which is about 10% of the program’s budget.
The UK as the EU have equal rights to terminate the agreement in case of significant changes to the conditions under which the UK has agreed to participate. From January 2021 to the end of February, the agreement is set to be applied provisionally. However, the deal needs to gain approval from the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, and the European Council.
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