Britain has finally rejoined the European Union’s flagship Horizon science research programme, ending a two-year post-Brexit standoff with the EU over science funding.
The agreement, which excludes the EU’s Euratom nuclear research scheme, was welcomed by British scientists and signals a further improvement in bilateral relations seven months after a dispute over trade was resolved.
British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said he had secured “improved financial terms of association” with the Horizon project, which will see the UK contribute £15.6 billion over the next seven years.
“We’ve taken the time to negotiate the right deal for the UK, a bespoke deal, which works in our interest,” Sunak told reporters. “(It) works in the best interest of our researchers and scientists but also in the best interest of British taxpayers.”
The EU blocked Britain’s participation because of a row over post-Brexit trade rules governing the British province of Northern Ireland, but February’s resolution of that dispute opened the door to Britain rejoining Horizon Europe.
Britain had questioned how much it needed to pay to rejoin, having missed two years of the seven-year programme, and had guaranteed funding for UK applicants to Horizon while negotiations took place.
The agreement is a major boost for British science and will allow UK researchers to continue collaborating with their European counterparts on cutting-edge projects.
It is also seen as a sign of improving relations between the UK and the EU, following the resolution of the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute.
Chief Executive of Defence industry membership body, ADS, Kevin Craven, said: “ADS warmly welcomes the announcement today that the UK has finalised a deal with the EU on rejoining Horizon Europe, the EU R&D programme.
“We have been consistently clear that the scheme will help drive the innovation and collaboration needed to develop the next generation of technologies to address a wide range of societal challenges.
“The UK aerospace, defence, security, and space sectors had been leading participants and recipients of funding in its predecessor, and this will provide a welcome boost to scientific and industrial collaboration in our sectors.
“We also welcome the news that the UK will rejoin Copernicus, the EU earth observation scheme, which the UK’s rapidly growing space sector can play a leading role in supporting.”
The agreement is a major victory for British scientists and researchers, and is a sign of the UK’s commitment to scientific collaboration. It is also a boost for the UK’s economy, as it will help to attract investment and talent.
The agreement is being viewed as a step forward in the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU, and is a sign of the improving relations.
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