European Universities Urge Rapid Agreement as UK-EU Horizon Europe Deadline Approaches

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News by Erudera News Sep 04, 2023

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As the deadline for the British government to agree with the European Union’s conditions about the UK’s association to Horizon Europe approaches, European universities have once again united in urging political leaders to reach an agreement as soon as possible.

By the end of September, the British government needs to agree with the EU's terms regarding the UK’s inclusion in Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding program for research and innovation, or it can choose to extend a domestic compensation plan, Erudera.com reports.

In a press release, the European University Association (EUA) and Universities UK said that the ongoing delays on an association agreement to allow United Kingdom join Horizon Europe are harming the research collaboration across Europe.

“It is encouraging that talks are continuing in a constructive vein and that both parties assert that their overwhelming preference is to confirm the UK’s full association,” the statement released by EUA on July 12 reads.

EUA further stated that researchers across Europe need clarity without delay so they can proceed with plans to collaborate in research, in particular, address global challenges in the world today, including climate change.

Horizon Europe has a budget of €95.5 billion from 2021 until 2027. It has been created to facilitate collaboration and strengthen research and innovation while addressing the greatest challenges of our time.

In July, Christian Ehler, one of the European Parliament’s rapporteurs for Horizon Europe, called on the EU Commission to not negotiate about UK demands regarding the program.

During a hearing of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, he said the Parliament knows the UK wants to renegotiate the financial conditions but added that the matter was settled in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

Earlier this year, the UK and EU negotiators drafted a deal on the UK’s association to the EU’s flagship research program after several months of talks.

At a joint media conference with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak this February, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said she is ready to start talks with the UK on the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe.

“Happy to start immediately, right now, the work on an association agreement which is the precondition to join Horizon Europe,” Von der Leyen told the Belgium newspaper Le Soir.

After leaving the EU’s legal framework in 2020, the UK officially left Horizon Europe 2020; nonetheless, TCA made arrangements for the UK association to join the program as a third country in line with the agreement’s terms of participation.

The delays in the association have been caused mostly by EU and UK disagreements on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. The UK is required to provide a financial contribution to join the program.

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