The Brexit-deal: What are the consequences for UK participation in Horizon Europe?

Negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) have finally resulted in a deal, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which comes with good news regarding scientific cooperation across the Channel. Researchers in the UK, one of the largest beneficiaries of the FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes, will be able to bid for grants under Horizon Europe. However, the Brexit-deal has some consequences for UK participation in Horizon Europe.

Waiting for a final agreement

A more detailed agreement still needs to be drafted, and researchers from the UK can only participate in Horizon Europe after the agreement is finalised and the final research programme has been published. Given that Horizon Europe officially started this month and the first grants will be issued in spring pending the final work programmes, hopes are that the final agreement can be expected soon. Most likely, the UK will become an associated country, like, for example, Switzerland with several caveats that are currently under discussion.

Expected changes for the UK and Horizon Europe

Though the rules for UK participation in Horizon 2020 are unaffected by Brexit, some changes can be expected for Horizon Europe.

  1. The EU is not amenable to UK SMEs gaining access to the European Innovation Council Accelerator programme (previously SME Instrument). The UK – upon leaving the EU – automatically ended its membership to the European Investment Bank (EIB) and will no longer have access to their financial instruments related to the Horizon Europe programme – including the EIC Accelerator equity funds.
  2. Furthermore, the EU has not yet decided whether UK data-protection regulations are adequate, which are required for the free exchange of personal data, such as patient data, between the UK and the EU. As trade in goods remains tariff-free, lab equipment and consumables may be imported without any additional measures.

Both the UK and the EU have options to terminate participation in the programme. For the UK this is possible if there are significant changes to the terms of participation, for example if more than 10% of the programme becomes unavailable to UK researchers. Next to that, it is important to take into account that travelling, working and studying in the EU has become more complicated for British citizens (and vice versa). For any stays longer than 90 days a visa is required, however no single EU-wide visa for scientists yet exists, making long-term visits more complex.

Stay up-to-date

For now – pending the publication of the final Horizon Europe Work Programmes – there are many open questions regarding the specifications of the UK participation in the programme. We will keep an eye on any new updates as more information becomes available. In the meantime, we will continue advising our clients regarding cross-border partnerships. Do you need grant advice or support with your application?

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