UK to push for ‘full association’ to Horizon Europe

But government says it will seek to participate in Erasmus+ only ‘on a time-limited basis’

February 27, 2020

The UK government is to seek “full association” to the European Union’s next research programme.

The government’s strategy for negotiations with the EU on its future wider relationship with the bloc, which was published today, says the UK will “consider a relationship in line with non-EU Member State participation” with Horizon Europe, as well as Euratom Research (focused on nuclear research) and Copernicus (the EU’s Earth observation programme).

A government source told Times Higher Education that the negotiating mandate “is for full association to Horizon Europe”.

The negotiating document also says the UK will “consider options for participation in elements of Erasmus+ on a time-limited basis, provided the terms are in the UK’s interests”.

It adds that any agreements in relation to EU programmes “should contain fair terms for UK participation”, including “fair treatment of participants, a fair and appropriate financial contribution, provisions allowing for sound financial management by both parties, and appropriate governance and consultation”.

Horizon Europe and the next Erasmus+ student and staff mobility programme both start on 1 January 2021.

Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat MP and the party’s education spokeswoman, said the document suggests that the UK “has one foot out of the door” on Erasmus+.

“Instead of ensuring that our universities remain open, international and outward looking, these proposals show that Brexit means going it alone. Instead, the UK will presumably waste millions on a replacement scheme that won’t match Erasmus’ reputation or size,” she said.

Last week, a former European commissioner warned that the UK would be able to join Horizon Europe only if its government seeks an extension to its transition agreement with the bloc, claiming that reaching a wider deal would be impossible in a year. The transition period is scheduled to last until 31 December.

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