The EU has barred the UK from participating in its £80 billion flagship innovation plan, Horizon Europe, but Britain is prepared to withdraw with a “bold alternative” since it “doesn’t get much” from portions of the project anyhow, according to the Science Minister.
Horizon Europe was supposed to cost the UK £15 billion over seven years so that British scientists could work with European researchers and apply for EU funds.
However, the EU has informed the UK that it would not be able to participate until the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute is resolved, even though Britain’s participation is a component of the agreed Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement, (TCA).
Now, Science Minister George Freeman has had enough. Tomorrow, he is going to Brussels to stress how serious the situation is.
But, if a deal cannot be achieved, Mr Freeman has expressed confidence in the UK’s capacity to go it alone after the EU’s rejection.
On BBC Radio Four’s World at One, he said: “There are three parts of Horizon programme.
“One is the fellowships, which are very highly regarded and popular.
“The second is an industry funding pillar, and the third, is innovation.
“We actually don’t get very much out of the second two.”
Mr Freeman has devised a strategy to guarantee that the UK researchers who were promised participation in Horizon do not lose out.
He continued: “All applications in the UK, we will guarantee the funding. So all those scientists who are putting in bids to Europe, we guaranteed UK funding for them.”