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Controversy in UK over access to Horizon Europe –

The UK government has been urged by the Scottish government to immediately secure its participation in the EU’s multi-billion research project Horizon Europe. It was earlier reported that Rishi Sunak’s government under British leadership was preparing an alternative plan.

In a letter on Tuesday (March 7), Scotland’s Higher Education and Further Education Minister Jamie Hepburn addressed Britain’s Science and Technology Minister Michelle Donnellan. He urged them to “start talks on legal contact as soon as possible”. [dem Programm] “to formalize access to Horizon Europe”.

The UK has been excluded from the €95.5 billion science funding program for two years. Because the European Commission has linked the access to association status provided for in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Following last week’s announcement of a “Windsor Framework Agreement” with the EU on the protocol, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would “immediately” begin to finalize the UK’s associate member status.

Hepburn added, “If we successfully join the Horizon Europe program, the UK government seems to think that participation will be charged from re-entry, although this is never guaranteed.”

However, Donnellan said on Monday that a deal to link the UK to Horizon Europe had to be reached on “acceptable and favorable terms” and refused to give any guarantees of the UK’s firm participation in the project.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has previously been reported to favor an alternative UK-led plan to work with non-EU countries and European countries.

Donnellan’s ministry confirmed its commitment to pay researchers until June for Horizon Europe grants.

The impasse over access to Horizon Europe led UK ministers to pledge to set up an alternative national research and development fund and give researchers and companies at least the money they receive from the EU program over the 2021-27 EU budget period.

Last week the government announced that £1.6 billion had been clawed back from the Treasury originally earmarked to promote links with EU programmes. The move stunned the British research community.

Ratification of the “Windsor Framework” could take several months and a vote in the UK Parliament is unlikely before the end of April. In the UK, there is no hope that the country’s universities and researchers will receive Horizon funding any time soon.

“It would be difficult to wave a magic wand and fix all this,” British officials said. British researchers have been excluded from the scheme for two years and are said to be “far behind”.

[Bearbeitet von Zoran Radosavljevic]