UK excluded from Horizon research program because EU does not trust UK government


The European Union is blocking the UK from its flagship research program because it does not ‘trust’ the UK government after threats to tear up the Northern Ireland protocol.

Third countries Georgia, Israel, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia were all admitted as associate members of Horizon Europe on Tuesday. The UK’s accession to the £ 77 billion program was agreed during last year’s Brexit negotiations, but has yet to be formalized.

A spokesperson for the European Commission told the Telegraph: “The UK’s association with Horizon Europe and other EU programs will be finalized in due course. This requires a level of confidence in meeting the attached conditions. “

High-level government sources accused the EU of “slowing down” to exert leverage in ongoing talks on the protocol, which created the Irish Sea border. They say the process of formalizing membership should have started in May.

European sources said the delay was in retaliation for British threats to unilaterally break the protocol by triggering Article 16. Brussels said it would violate the treaty and international law.

In November, The Telegraph revealed that the government plans to pull out of Horizon Europe in early 2022, unless membership is granted soon.

The UK is expected to contribute £ 15bn to the seven-year program, or £ 2.1bn per year, to maintain UK scientists and researchers access to pan-European projects and funding.

In frustration with Brussels, the newspaper said work should start even if “the benefits of the program cannot be fully replicated in national alternatives” and its withdrawal “would impact the ambition to become a superpower. scientist”.

Protocol talks continue this week and now appear almost certain to extend into the New Year. An agreement on the supply of medicines to the province is near, but Lord Frost wants more progress in reducing customs controls on British products exported to Northern Ireland.

UK businesses and universities can still advocate for the lucrative contracts, but associate member status must be granted at the time the money is due if they are to secure the funding.

In November, the EU’s research community wrote to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urging her to finalize the UK’s membership at the risk of jeopardizing the program.

The letter has been signed by more than 1,000 universities and thousands of European researchers.


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