UK remains participant in European research program

In spite of Brexit and fears to the contrary, the United Kingdom is not leaving Horizon Europe. Scholars are relieved European research collaboration won’t be compromised.

photo Diy13 / iStock

“The EU and UK are key strategic partners and allies, and today’s agreement proves that point”, says President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. “We will continue to be at the forefront of global science and research.”

Negotiators from Brussels and London reached an agreement on Wednesday for the UK to be reassociated to the Horizon Europe program and the joint Copernicus space program.


The British will make an estimated contribution of almost 2.6 billion euros per year for their participation in the European research program up to and including 2027.

“This is very good news”, was Kurt Deketelaere’s relieved response. He is the Secretary-General of LERU, the association of ‘research-intensive’ universities in Europe. Members include the British universities in Oxford and Cambridge, but also such institutions as the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University. “It means that Great Britain will not go off on its own with an international research program developing separately from its European counterpart.” 


After Brexit, in 2020, the UK’s future in the European research landscape was uncertain for a long time. But negotiations suddenly gained momentum when a deal was made on the border controls between the EU and Northern Ireland last spring.

Since the start of the current Horizon program, over two years ago, British institutions only qualified for European funding on the condition the UK would rejoin the program. During this time, the British government has advanced all of the provisionally granted research grants. “It wasn’t certain London would keep doing so”, Deketelaere says. “The British Cabinet made individual announcements on the subject every few months.”


Now that the UK is to be associated once more, it will again be eligible for EU research funding. However, it won’t be able to influence the future of Horizon Europe, as only Member States get a say in this.

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