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Universities warn of EU-UK research scheme 'close to precipice' - BBC Report - 01.06.22

The long tail-spin of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement continues to play itself out years after the original agreement was signed.

In an article from the BBC website, we see how the political fall-out is now affecting parts of the higher education system, specifically in relation to scientific research:

“Universities have called for an urgent resolution to a row about UK access to a major EU research programme.

Universities UK, which represents 140 institutions, fears ministers could be about to abandon the Horizon scheme.

In a letter to the European Commission, seen by the BBC, it describes the situation as "close to the precipice."

The EU has indicated UK participation is tied to the row about post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Horizon Europe is the EU's key funding programme for research and innovation, with a current budget of €95.5bn (£81.2bn).”

UK universities have intervened and attempted to remove politics from the dispute:

“In its letter to European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, Universities UK says that scientific collaboration should not be compromised by "unrelated political disputes".

It warns that many of its members have reported researchers being "forced" to leave projects.”

Importantly, the government is drafting a fall-back position should matters escalate:

“The UK minister for science, research and innovation, George Freeman, has said membership remains the priority but a plan B is being kept on standby.

Scientists and academics have for months raised the alarm that delays in access are creating problems because funding cannot be released to UK collaborators without a formal agreement. And they have expressed concerns that EU researchers will not include UK scientists in their projects.

In March the UK government extended a funding guarantee for successful Horizon Europe applicants, until the end of the 2022.”

The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it:

Article for the BBC by Jessica Parker - Universities warn of EU-UK research scheme 'close
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