EU blows top and BANS UK from £80bn project over Article 16: ‘Must be tackled first!’

Frost calls for ‘flexible’ approach to Northern Ireland Protocol

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Mariya Gabriel, the European Union’s Commissioner for Innovation and Research, has confirmed the UK will not be able to join the programme until the question of Northern Ireland is resolved. Horizon Europe is the EU’s signature funding initiative that pools in more than £80billion (€95billion) for research and innovation. The UK and Switzerland have been prevented from taking part in the programme, with Ms Gabriel warning “transversal issues need to be tackled first”.

The UK has been at loggerheads with the EU over Northern Ireland’s status post-Brexit and the Government has faced calls to scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, agreements were put in place to protect Northern Ireland’s position in the EU’s single market without implementing a hard customs border.

The deal, which was negotiated by Lord David Frost, was implemented to protect the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

However, this has proven easier said than done and the Government fears the agreement has damaged trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Environment Secretary George Eustice warned last year there will still need to be “some checks on some goods” as well as “some customs processes but not customs checks” at the Irish border.

Lord Frost, who hailed the NI Protocol an “excellent deal” last year, has now said he might be forced to trigger Article 16 of the agreement, which would suspend part of the deal.

The chaos and confusion surrounding the diplomatic row have now affected the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe.

Ms Gabriel told ScienceBusiness: “Association is a thematic subject, and I am confident that we are ready to tackle it as soon as possible, but transversal issues need to be tackled first.”

Arlene Foster says more needs to be done for Northern Ireland

She added the UK’s membership will only be resolved once the diplomatic crisis is averted, saying: “I think that it is important on our side to confirm our opinion to advance on association, but only after the framework is agreed by both sides.”

There has also been a breakdown in cooperation between the EU and Switzerland, with the latter suspending bilateral negotiations with the bloc.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU or the European Economic Area but is part of the single market.

The two have clashed over Switzerland’s contributions to the EU’s Cohesion Fund, which supports investment in environment and transport infrastructure.

Switzerland is due to make overdue payments to the fund and the country’s scientists have, consequently, been barred from Horizon Europe.

Swiss politicians have shown a willingness to resolve the conflict by paying contributions to the fund.

According to Ms Gabriel, this will pave the way for Switzerland to rejoin the programme.

Ms Gabriel said: “There are three stages – payments for the cohesion funds, a global accord, and concrete ways of participation.

“It’s an ongoing progress which, for now, remains suspended.”

The EU has previously suspended Swiss membership from the Horizon 2020 programme in 2-14.

However, the issue was partially resolved within six months of the suspension, with full membership restored in 2017.

It is unclear when the latest hurdle will be cleared.

Ms Gabriel said: “We expect something concrete, something official, so we can remain ready to act.”

Source: Read Full Article