The UK is a major beneficiary of European Union research and innovation programmes. Under the previous funding programme for 2007-13, the UK received more than €7 billion (£5.9 billion). And the current programme, Horizon 2020, which runs from 2014 to 2020, offers more opportunities and has a higher budget than in the previous period.
Of course, the value of engaging in EU research programmes cannot be measured by the number of grants alone. The value lies in building networks – in exchanging information and experience.
Naturally I respect the choice of British voters, but I also regret the outcome of the referendum. The UK is an essential and valued partner in the EU’s research collaboration. And the UK’s research is strengthened by its relationships with the EU and the international community.
Since the morning of 24 June, we have been getting many questions from researchers in the UK who worry about the implications of the referendum on the availability of EU research funding.
For the time being, I would like to reassure them that the referendum as such doesn’t change anything regarding their eligibility for funding under Horizon 2020, the world’s biggest research and innovation funding programme.
As long as the UK is a member of the European Union, EU law continues to apply and the UK retains all rights and obligations of a member state.
But what would be the implications of the UK’s leaving the EU? It is far too early to speculate on this question and provide the much-awaited answers. There is no precedent in the EU’s history.
So all implications on specific policy areas, including research, will have to be addressed in due course, once the UK initiates the so-called Article 50 process and negotiations with the UK begin on its withdrawal agreement as well as on the agreement concerning its future relationship with the EU.