Brexit ‘no deal’ will rip up university research funding, warns European Commission

Written by Tom Freeman on 16 October 2017 in News

Scottish universities face missing out on European research funding when freedom of movement ends in 2019

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Universities would lose European research funding and asked to leave collaborative projects if the UK Government walk out of Brexit talks without agreeing a deal, the European Commission has warned.

Furthermore, when free movement ends in 2019 as promised by Theresa May, UK universities will no longer be eligible, the European Commissioner for science and innovation has confirmed.

Both the UK and Scottish Governments have indicated they wish to continue to take part in the flagship Horizon 2020 funding scheme, which has funded almost £363m research in Scotland to May 2017.


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UK Brexit minister David Davis has said the UK is prepared to pay around £1bn to remain part of the programme, pointing out it does have associate agreements with countries outside the EU such as Switzerland, Norway and Israel.

However, in an interview with The Scotsman during a visit to Scotland today, Commissioner Carlos Moedas said: “Until the UK leaves, its researchers, universities, organisations, and companies are eligible to participate and receive funding in Horizon 2020.

“But the eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. This is why it was important to be transparent and inform UK-based applicants now that if the UK withdraws from the EU without concluding a withdrawal agreement they may be required to leave the project and no longer receive funding.

“For projects for which the grant agreement is signed after the withdrawal takes effect, UK participants will be treated as entities established in a third country.

“Under Horizon 2020 rules, projects are open to participants from third countries, but only in addition to the minimum number of EU partners, and such third country participants would not normally receive funding.”

Switzerland was forced to reconsider new restrictions to immigration after being threatened with expulsion from Horizon 2020.

Moedas supported the lobbying work by the sector to ensure the UK is involved whatever project succeeds Horizon 2020.

SNP MP Stephen Gethins last week wrote to Davis calling on the UK government to clarify its position on EU science and research programmes.

“Scotland is a proud and active partner within the research community and within a large number of EU research collaborations,” he said.

“Our world leading universities and education institutions have secured significant funding from EU programmes as a result of our close links. It is vital that they are not severed, and our standing on the international stage not diminished, due to the recklessness and irresponsibility of the Tory government’s Brexit plans, or lack of.”

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