‘Little sign of progress’ on UK association to Horizon Europe

Universities in Europe ‘strongly regret’ that finalisation of association is still elusive 10 months after Brexit agreement

October 8, 2021
European Union Map with UK removed by pencil eraser
Source: iStock

Europe’s association of universities has warned that “many, deep and long-lasting partnerships are at stake” unless the UK’s association to the Horizon Europe research programme is quickly finalised.

In a statement, the European University Association (EUA) said that there was still “little sign of progress and no clear, official timeline for the finalisation of the association agreement” despite it being 10 months since the UK and European Union first agreed to association in principle.

“The lengthy process of associating the UK to Horizon Europe and other EU programmes is creating unnecessary insecurity within the European knowledge community, and this insecurity threatens plans for scientific cooperation – with negative consequences for both the EU and the UK,” the EUA statement read.

The EUA, which represents more than 800 universities and national rectors’ conferences across the continent, said that institutions and researchers saw the Brexit agreement struck at the end of last year “as a guarantee that both sides shared the view that common research and innovation efforts would be continued after the UK had left the EU”.

“The possibility for UK entities to apply in the first calls of Horizon Europe and the allocation of funds in the UK to finance participation in the programme gave further reassurance,” it added.

However, it said that Europe’s universities “strongly regret” that a final agreement on association had yet to be completed and “there is little sign of progress and no clear, official timeline”.

“The European Union and the United Kingdom benefit from joint research and innovation, as well as interconnected universities that strive for excellence and cooperation,” the statement said.

“Europe’s universities are united in their call to safeguard this research and innovation cooperation through fast association of the UK to the Horizon Europe programme. Many, deep and long-lasting partnerships are at stake. These are of high value to Europe as a whole – and to the world at large.”

The EUA said that the statement had “been endorsed by the EUA Council, representing 34 European national university associations and national rectors’ conferences”.

simon.baker@timeshighereducation.com

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