New Post-Brexit Deal to Pave Way for UK’s Participation in Horizon Europe Program

United Kingdom Europe Europe Higher Education News by Erudera News Mar 03, 2023


A new political agreement has been announced by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to modify the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has been a challenging part of the Brexit settlement.

The pact, referred to as the “Windsor Framework,” aims to promote collaboration and reduce tensions between the European Union and the UK after the latter’s withdrawal from the EU, reports.

The European University Association (EUA) has applauded the agreement, which according to the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, would unblock the UK’s participation in EU programs, especially Horizon Europe, a key funding program for research and innovation in Europe with a budget of €95.5 billion.

“They ensured that EU and UK universities could work together on excellent, cross-border research and innovation, uniting talents, perspectives and ideas from across the continent. Returning to that basis is certainly good news for the European family of universities,” EUA said in a press release on March 2, 2023.

In its statement, EUA notes that the biggest obstacle in cooperation between EU universities and their partners in the UK over the past six years has been uncertainty, and the new agreement can end the long-running dispute.

UK researchers, who for more than two years had no access to EU grants and were unable to cooperate with their colleagues in the EU, are optimistic that under the framework, the UK will successfully join Horizon Europe.

EUA appealed to all parties to do their utmost and ensure the UK joins EU programs as soon as possible, which would mean closing the remaining parts of Protocol 1 on UK’s association to EU programs.

At a press conference announcing the pact, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the deal is written in the language of laws and treaties, but it is also more than that.

“… It’s about breaking down the barriers between us. Setting aside the arguments that have for too long, divided us. And remembering the fellow feeling that defines us: This family of nations – this United Kingdom,” he said.

Meanwhile, the EU Commission President said the agreement is good news for researchers and scientists in the EU and UK, expressing readiness to immediately start with an association agreement which is an obligatory condition to participate in Horizon Europe.

The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is one of the essential parts of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement. It entered into force on February 1, 2020, after long negotiations between the EU and the UK, to protect the 1998 Good Friday / Belfast Agreement, to prevent a hard border in the island of Ireland, as well as to ensure the integrity of the EU’s single market.

The “Windsor Framework,” reached on February 27, replaces the old NI Protocol and aims to address challenges faced by citizens, businesses, and politicians in Northern Ireland.

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