“It’s time to consign the EU’s science projects to the petri dish of history, and withdraw £11bn UK funding”

Why should the UK commit to £11bn for EU science projects it’s banned from?

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For more than 18 months the UK’s scientific community has been blocked by the EU from participating in its four major science programmes.

This participation was agreed under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) but UK scientists continue to be barred by the EU, for its own political reasons.

Facts4EU.Org has conducted its own research project into the EU and its refusal to comply with the terms of the TCA in respect of Britain’s scientists. Our conclusion is that it’s time to consign the EU’s ‘Horizon Europe’ and Copernicus science projects to the petri dish of history.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

The EU’s refusal to comply with the terms of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement

  • UK Government agreed to continue funding the EU’s science projects
  • For over 18 months UK participation has been banned by the EU Commission
  • The EU has done this with no legal basis
  • It has been done to blackmail the UK over the N.I. Protocol
  • The UK has committed around £11bn to the EU’s science projects over the next few years

[Source: Latest UK Government and EU Commission statements.]

What are these EU science projects and how much are they costing the UK taxpayer?

The EU has various scientific research programmes. The main ones are Horizon, Copernicus, Euratom Research & Training, and Fusion for Energy. In short, these broadly cover scientific and medical research, space and satellites, and nuclear.

For convenience we are going to refer to all of these as ‘Horizon Europe’ (the major one). The figures below show how much the UK Government has allocated to these in its official 2021 Spending Review.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

UK’s budget allocation to the EU’s science projects

  • 2021-22 : £1.4 bn
  • 2022-23 : £1.3 bn
  • 2023-24 : £2.4 bn
  • 2024-25 : £2.2 bn
  • 2025-26 : £2.2 bn
  • 2026-27 : £2.2 bn
  • TOTAL : £11.7 bn

[Source: 2021 UK Government Spending Review.]

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2022 - click to enlarge

NOTE: We have combined the budgets from different government departments in an effort to present a more complete picture. For example, the contribution to the EU’s space programme Copernicus bizarrely comes out of the budget of the Dept for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). We have also projected two extra years to line up with the EU’s own budgetary period of 2021-2027.

UK scientists are complaining – but so are the EU’s, and Brexit should not be an issue

In essence, ‘Horizon Europe’ is all about funding research and cooperation between the scientists in European countries. Horizon already encompasses many countries outside the EU, so Brexit should not be an issue.

Given the reputation of the UK’s scientific community there are as many scientists protesting in the EU about the UK’s exclusion as there are in the UK.

What is the UK Government doing?

On 20 July 2022 the UK Government issued a statement.

How the UK will transition to a new R&D programme if unable to associate to Horizon Europe, Copernicus and Euratom

Excerpts from statement by the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP

“The UK government has always been clear that our departure from the European Union (EU) does not mean leaving the flagship Horizon, Copernicus, Euratom Research & Training and Fusion for Energy programmes. The UK has always been a major financial and intellectual contributor to these programmes and seeks to continue that partnership.

“Unfortunately, the EU has still not formalised our association to these programmes as agreed under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), linking them to resolution of wider political discussions. I am concerned that the continued delays are causing intolerable uncertainty for our research and business community.”

“Despite widespread support for UK association across member states and the EU’s research community, association continues to look unlikely while the EU links it to wider political issues.”

- Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 20 July 2022

The UK’s long-term Horizon Europe alternative

The government has committed to providing the fastest ever sustained uplift in R&D funding, reaching £20 billion per annum by the end of the current spending review period.

With an R&D budget of £39.8 billion over the spending review period, BEIS and its partner organisations will invest across a range of priority areas spanning fundamental research, talent, innovation and infrastructure.


The United Kingdom is a scientific powerhouse

It dominates the rankings in Europe when it comes to the top-rated universities and the UK has by far the most Nobel Laureates. The EU needs the UK’s brainboxes.

It is well-known that academics overwhelming voted to remain in the European Union. This was confirmed by the Times Higher Educational Supplement survey which we reported on. It is therefore not surprising that these academics and their representative bodies have been up in arms about the current situation and have blamed Brexit.

In reality it is the EU Commission that is at fault. There is no conceivable justification for linking the UK’s participation in scientific programmes to the N.I. Protocol. Indeed, we would argue that there is a clear breach of the TCA by the EU which has now lasted 19 months.

The Government has now confirmed its long-term commitment to British science and research, with a very significant budget. This has been welcomed by Universities UK and other organisations.

We would now urge the Government to go further and inform the EU Commission that because of its failure to comply with the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the UK will now go its own way.

The British taxpayer will save money (EU programmes always go over-budget and over-deadline) and scientists across Europe and around the world will continue to cooperate as they have done for generations.

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[ Sources: UK Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy | DEFRA | 2021 Spending Review | EU Commission ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Sat 30 July 2022

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