The The EU and the UK have launched a bid to attract scientists to the €95.5 billion European research program Horizon. There were earlier warnings about high costs and bureaucracy in the UK.
When the United Kingdom left the EU in 2020, it also withdrew from the European research program Horizon Europe.
After years of uncertainty, the UK rejoined the project in January after political disputes prevented British researchers from fully participating in the project.
Academic, business and research leaders in the UK were urged to take advantage of the Horizon Europe funding opportunity at a meeting in London on Monday (February 12). There were concerns about costs and visas for European scientists wanting to work in the UK.
“Some concerns regarding fees, healthcare surcharges and salaries were raised by researchers,” European Research and Innovation Commissioner Ileana Ivanova told a press conference after the meeting.
“I don't want to focus on a potential controversy,” he added.
The UK was expected to join the Horizon program last year, which focuses on issues such as climate change and medical research. An agreement was previously reached with the European Union regarding the movement of goods between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delayed joining the scheme so that a better agreement on budgetary contributions could be reached.
Horizon Europe has a budget of €95.5 billion, with the UK contributing an average of €2.43 billion per year to participate.
Earlier, Ivanova said on Monday that the UK must relax visa procedures or risk not being able to reap the full benefits of Horizon.
“We have some difficulties in getting European researchers to the UK due to some visa issues and high costs, which I will discuss with the British side,” he told the Financial Times.
However, British Science Minister Michelle Donelan denied the UK had problems recruiting participants.
He said the “key message” of scientists, innovators and businesses to “connect” with the program would support their interests and promote the UK's economic growth and development.
“You will hear directly from people who actively chose to move here because of all these positive attributes,” he told a press conference.
He said the UK would consider working with the EU on other projects “on a case-by-case basis”.
“The British public voted to leave the EU and should have more control and say in their decisions,” he said.
“This clearly indicates that the merits and themes of each of these different aspects need to be reviewed and studied.”
However, when it comes to Horizon, getting back into it will be “a breeze,” he added. The UK took time to re-engage with the scheme to benefit taxpayers.
“That is why we continued to negotiate to reach a working agreement,” he said.
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