“What about Brexit?” Since that memorable day in June 2016, this is a question GrantCraft have been asked frequently when delivering workshops and training on European funding options. Whilst there have been indications since early-on in proceedings that British researchers’ entitlement to continue applying for and receiving H2020 funding would be protected, at least until the official exit date in March 2019, any suggestions about what might happen after this date have been largely speculative. However, the publication of a joint report by the UK Government and the European Commission on 8th December 2017 marked a shift towards a more optimistic view of the UK’s relationship with the EU in terms of research funding.
The joint report states:
“following withdrawal from the Union the UK will continue to participate in the Union programmes financed by the MFF 2014-2020 until their closure (excluding participation in financial operations which give rise to a contingent liability for which the UK is not liable as from the date of withdrawal). Entities located in the UK will be entitled to participate in such programmes. Participation in Union programmes will require the UK and UK beneficiaries to respect all relevant Union legal provisions including co-financing. Accordingly, the eligibility to apply to participate in Union programmes and Union funding for UK participants and projects will be unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the Union for the entire lifetime of such projects.”
A UK Government overview of UK participation in Horizon 2020 gave the following assurances about what is envisaged by the joint report:
- Existing projects will continue to receive an uninterrupted flow of EU funding for the lifetime of the project
- UK participants will be eligible to bid for H2020 funding for the duration of the programme, including after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU
- Full UK participation in H2020 consortia projects
- Full UK participation in H2020 individual grants
- The underwrite guarantee will cover all funding awarded prior to the UK’s exit from the EU
- Proposals from or including UK applicants will be treated the same as applications from other member states or Associated Countries for the duration of H2020
In a speech made on 2nd March 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May stated that “The UK is committed to establishing a far-reaching science and innovation pact with the EU, facilitating the exchange of ideas and researchers. This would enable the UK to participate in key programmes alongside our EU partners”.
This sentiment is echoed in the UK Government’s collaboration on science and innovation: a future partnership paper. This paper is part of a series setting out the key issues which form part of the Government’s vision for ‘a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union’. It lays out the benefits of the UK retaining its research relationship with the EU and claims that one of the UK’s core objectives in preparing to leave the EU is to seek agreement to continue to collaborate with EU partners on major science, research and technology initiatives.
Following a summary of the importance of EU research funding to the UK and the benefits that have been reaped, the paper concludes that ‘the UK will seek to agree a far-reaching science and innovation agreement with the EU that establishes a framework for future collaborations’.
Whilst there is still a long way to go to secure the future of EU funding for UK researchers and institutions, these indications are optimistic – there is a clear drive to maintain the strong collaborative research relationship between the rest of the EU and the UK.
In the meantime…
All evidence points to the fact that UK researchers should continue applying for H2020 funding – the European Commission and the UK Government have made assurances that there will be no bias against the UK and that any funding awarded prior to the UK’s exit will be underwritten.
For further information, advice or support in preparing your H2020 bids, please Contact Us.
 Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union (2017).
 UK participation in Horizon 2020: UK Government overview with Q&A (2018).