Lord Frost gives update on UK’s participation in Horizon Europe
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Mr Freeman is heading to Japan in September to explore striking a deal for closer collaboration on science with the Asian powerhouse. As well as Japan, the Science Minister explained that he is also looking to South Korea and the US to strike similar deals. He told Express.co.uk in an exclusive interview: “We are absolutely committed to global science, research and innovation at the moment for global good.”
He later added: “We have huge partner appetite to do more with us…I think most researchers know that the big, exciting challenges are global.”
But a big reason that Mr Freeman has been encouraged to strike these deals comes after Britain’s access from Horizon Europe was blocked by the EU.
This is the £80billion programme that would have given the UK researchers access to prestigious EU grants and allowed them to collaborate with European partners.
And even though it was agreed in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the UK was told it cannot rejoin until the Northern Ireland Protocol row is resolved.
And, this week, tensions have been sent surging after the UK announced its Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would allow Britain to unilaterally override sections of the hated rules.
The EU’s Vice Commissioner Maros Sefcovic lashed out at Britain, calling it “illegal”.
And if Foreign Secretary Liz Truss can’t negotiate a renewed Brexit deal, it could leave Mr Freeman no choice but to trigger “Plan B”.
Mr Freeman told Express.co.uk: “On Horizon, the EU’s clear intention is that pressure on Horizon…will lead us to change our negotiating stance.”
He added: “Let me be very clear, it absolutely will not because they are not linked.
“They never were linked and there is no basis in law for any link between them.”
He added: “They [the EU] are in danger of the worst of all worlds, which is the UK doing what it needs to do for the integrity of the United Kingdom.
“And the EU kicking us out of European research programmes, and I will then launch Global Plan B.”
But the Japan, US and South Korea deals Mr Freeman spoke about are not the only collaborations on the cards for his “Global Plan B”.
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Mr Freeman has also visited Switzerland, Sweden and Israel, where he explored closer science collaboration.
Last month, Mr Freeman’s Swiss counterpart Guy Parmelin exclusively told Express.co.uk that their meeting was an “excellent opportunity” to strike up a closer relationship between the two nations.
Mr Parmelin, who is also the former President of Switzerland, said: “It was an excellent opportunity to discuss various possibilities for intensifying cooperation in research and innovation and in this context, we agreed to work towards a Memorandum of Understanding as part of this strengthening process.”
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