Brexit and Horizon Europe

Brexit, UK and Horizon Europe

Even though Brexit has now officially happened, we’re not yet out of limbo. As yet, nothing is certain about the UKs future involvement in all European grant programs, for example for Horizon Europe that will start in 2021. Until the end of 2020, there is a transition phase in which the UK can still apply to European research funds. After that, it is up to the EU and the UK to determine what will happen next.

Both the UK and the EU want some role for the UK in Horizon Europe but agreeing on the specifics is an important next step. A few scenarios are possible:

  • Hard Brexit

The UK will not participate in Horizon Europe. They can still get funding, but only as a third country, extremely limiting their options. In this scenario, universities and companies can participate only under certain strict conditions and only as partner, not as applicant.

  • Soft Brexit

The UK will become part of Horizon Europe as an associated country (just like e.g. Norway and Switzerland). This will give them the same rights as EU member countries to apply for funding but no voting rights to determine e.g. monetary distribution and content. At the moment, Horizon Europe is already busy expanding their associated countries: many other countries such as Canada and Japan are already on the waiting list. So it remains to be seen whether the UK can get a privileged position or has to get back in line. Which brings us to the next scenario.

  • Extended Brexit

The UK will become an associated country, but not from the start (January 1st 2020) as the negotiations are not yet finished. This will extend the limbo period and delay important research and innovations as well as collaborations between the UK and the EU. Additionally, with the UK joining the line of prospective associated countries, this might delay the acceptance of other countries.

Given the history of Brexit, scenario 3 is the most likely. This means that the UK will have to get by on national funds until a solution is found. So in conclusion, until the end of 2020 you can still include UK participants in your consortia for Horizon 2020 and other EU funding programs. As of 2021 it is unclear what will happen.

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