Lord Frost gives update on UK’s participation in Horizon Europe
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The Brexit Minister has been pressing the bloc to allow Britain to re-join Horizon Europe after it was banned from participating due to Brexit fishing disputes and the Northern Ireland Protocol row. The move has put into question Britain’s future relationship with the EU, should Article 16 be triggered. Beth Thompson, from Wellcometrust, a large charitable science foundation, said: “We are united in our call for the UK’s association to Horizon Europe to be formalised as soon as possible.
“This continuing uncertainty risks jeopardising current and future research partnerships, and time is fast running out.”
Catherine Guinard, a policy advisor from Wellcometrust, added:” Pleased that Wellcometrust could join this powerful statement, calling for swift UK association to Horizon Europe.
“Fantastic to see united front across Europe’s health community.”
She shared a document, that has been shared by some of the biggest health companies in the EU.”
Their group joined scores of other health companies in signing a document calling for the UK’s participation to be formalised “as soon as possible”.
The document, signed by the European Health Stakeholder Group, reads: “We have all reaped the mutual health benefits of these collaborations.
“Together, we have significantly advanced health care across Europe, saving and improving citizens’ lives.
“Clinical trials, particularly on diseases with limited patient populations, have been heavily reliant on EU-UK collaboration, while close research and innovation partnerships continue to accelerate life-changing medical research.
“Going forward, we must continue to work together in order to meet the challenges of our swiftly changing world.
“We stand with our colleagues in the EU’s research and innovation community in urging the European Commission to formalise the UK’s association to Horizon Europe without further delay.”
And they are not the only ones demanding that the UK should re-join.
Back in November, 25 groups representing Europe’s academic and research sector wrote to the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, sounding their fury over the delay to UK’s participation in the project.
In the letter, the groups claimed that “universities, businesses and research institutions have been working with UK partners with a shared vision and in good faith that the UK would soon be a full associate member” of Horizon Europe.
The letter added: “We are rapidly approaching a crunch point. With the first Horizon Europe grant agreements approaching and new calls soon to be launched, UK association must be finalised without further delay.”
And arguably, these groups are rightfully angered.
While Britain is currently banned from the project due to the Brexit divide, Lord Frost claimed last month that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) that was included as part of the Brexit deal has not been violated by Britain.
Lord Frost told the House of Lords in November: “We agreed we would participate in this in the TCA and we agreed to pay a contribution of £15billion over seven years.
“The TCA is clear, the UK shall participate, and the relevant protocol shall be adopted, that is an obligation.”
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While the EU’s move has left British researchers panicking as the access to the EU’s giant pool of funding looked to be vanishing from their grip, the EU has also been warned that continuing to exclude Britain could be damaging for the bloc itself too.
Professor Jan Palmowski, of the University of Warwick, warned: “Disrupting this seamless collaboration with partners in the UK and Switzerland—which is also excluded from associate-member status due to problems with wider negotiations with the EU—will undermine the global competitiveness of European science in the EU and beyond.”
The EU could also lose out of funding from Britain if they don’t re-join.
The initial plan was for the UK to contribute £2.1billion annually to the programme so British scientists and researchers could have access to an array of European science projects.
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