Following the UK Treasury’s statement in August 2016, Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, yesterday confirmed the UK Government’s continued commitment to underwrite the funding for successful bids to Horizon 2020 made by UK applicants before the UK leaves the EU.
Mr Johnson stressed that the underwrite applies to both projects that are on-going at the point of the UK’s EU exit and funding that is applied for before the UK’s exit and is subsequently successful. He also confirmed that the underwrite includes Horizon 2020 calls with two-stage procedures, as long as the first application is submitted before the UK leaves the EU.
This reiterates the message that UK universities should continue to apply for EU funding through mechanisms such as Horizon 2020 while the UK is a member of the EU. This statement applies to competitive funding schemes managed centrally by the EC but not decentralised schemes administered directly by individual member states.
The Implications of Brexit for the Future of Devolution in the North East of England and for the Northern Powerhouse
This ESRC Seminar is organised by Newcastle Business School and will be held on Thursday 6th July 2017. The event is the third and final one of the Seminar Series funded by the ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ Initiative. It is open to anyone interested and aims to encourage debate that is easily accessible to a wide range of organisations, actors and members of the public who are interested in the UK’s relationship with the EU. Previous events of this series registered full-house attendance, and it is highly likely that the event at Newcastle will attract the same level of interest so if you are interested, please sign up as soon as possible.
Please note the event is free of charge but places will be allocated on first come first served basis. For further information about this event, please see the flyer. To book a place, please contact Gosia Slusarczyk
Our UKRO advisor, Jon Brookes, will be visiting Northumbria for the day on Wednesday 5 April. As UKRO subscribers we are entitled to an annual visit which we can plan according to our EU funding needs.
As part of his visit, Jon will be running a session on Brexit: the EU referendum and implications for EU funding from 10-11am, NB116, Northumberland Building, City Campus. This will be an opportunity to hear what we know so far about the UK’s status and participation in EU funding over the next few years and also what happens next in the Article 50 negotiations. There will be plenty time for Q&A.
If you would like to come along, please sign up here: http://rbscalendar.northumbria.ac.uk/event/3238666
UKRO has informed us that the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has published a report into the implications of leaving the EU for UK science and research, which states that the Government must send a clear message that it intends to protect the UK’s strength in science. It suggests that the Autumn Statement is used to commit to raising the UK’s expenditure on science R&D to 3% of GDP to demonstrate a determination to negotiate a post-Brexit relationship that is good for science and science collaborations.
In particular, it recommends that:
- Government should develop a comprehensive strategy to communicate messages of ongoing support for the science and research community in the context of its Brexit plans;
- Government should be mindful of the need to clarify future immigration rules so that the UK continues to attract top-quality researchers;
- An immediate commitment should be made to EU researchers currently working in the UK, to exempt them from any potential outfall arising from Brexit negotiations;
- The interim Chair of UKRI should be formally appointed to act as a ‘bridge’ between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU); and
- DexEU should appoint a Chief Scientific Advisor as a matter of priority.
UKRO has informed us that UK organisations that bid directly to the European Commission for LIFE projects will have the payment of their awards underwritten by the Treasury, even when the project continues after the UK leaves the EU. This is reassurance that UK organisations can continue to bids to this programme up to the Brexit date with a funding guarantee for successful projects. LIFE is the EU’s funding programme for climate action, nature conservation and the environment.
This news follows the August statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasury confirming that EU funding will be guaranteed beyond the date the UK leaves the EU. The statement provides assurance that “where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funding projects while we are still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU”. It was also reiterated that British universities and research organisations should therefore continue to apply for EU funding through mechanisms such as Horizon 2020 while the UK remains a member of the EU.
The Treasury has released a statement guaranteeing the continuation of funding for currently running EU funded projects until their completion, post Brexit. This statement covers Horizon 2020, the European Structural and Investment Funds, and a number of other schemes.
The statement says “in the short term, I can confirm that the Treasury will give an assurance that all multi-year projects administered by government with signed contracts or funding agreements in place, and projects to be signed in the ordinary course of business before the Autumn Statement, will be fully funded, even when these projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU”.
For competitive EC funding such as Horizon 2020, it states that “the Treasury will underwrite the payment of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU. The UK will continue to be a world leader in international research and innovation collaboration, and we expect to ensure that close collaboration between the UK and the EU in science continues”.
It also states that leaving the EU means the UK government will want to take its own decisions about how to deliver the policy objectives previously targeted by EU funding. In addition, there will be a consultation with stakeholders over the coming months to review all EU funding schemes to ensure that any ongoing funding commitments best serve the UK’s national interest.
In the weeks after the Brexit referendum, the European Commission also reiterated that the referendum result did not change the UK’s eligibility for EU funding and that UK universities and businesses should continue to bid for such funding.
Further to my blog post yesterday on the House of Commons Select Committee inquiry into the implications for science and research of leaving the EU, the official transcript of the proceedings is now available. A further call for evidence was also launched to assist in developing a list of risks and opportunities which shoudl be included in the Government’s future EU negotiating strategy. Submissions should be made online by Monday 22 August.
The Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee is examining the implications and opportunities of leaving the EU for UK science and research. The Committee is holding hearings on this during July, and invites written submissions during that period.
Yesterday’s session saw Kevin Baughan (Chief Development Officer, Innovate UK), Professor Philip Nelson (Chair, Research Councils UK) and Jo Johnson MP (Minister of State for Universities and Science) questioned.
Kevin Baughan (Innovate UK) underlined that the business sector is an important recipient of Horizon 2020 funds and that companies have already expressed concerns about decreased opportunities for collaboration. He underlined the importance of confidence, both in the sustainability of contracts beyond two years and of those from other EU Members States in UK partners. The more information the UK Government can give as to what will happen, the more confidence there will be. There is a huge risk to the UK in a two-year pause in excellence and innovation.
Philip Nelson (RCUK) stated that the biggest risks of Brexit are around the mobility of people as the UK has to continue to be seen as a destination for expertise. The creation of UKRI and the changes in the HE Bill have been ongoing for some time and he stated that it will be crucial that UKRI has a strong voice in the Brexit negotiations. He also mentioned much anecdotal evidence of UK partners being removed from consortia and leading researchers deciding not to risk coming to the UK and is concerned by this; RCUK will continue to monitor UK participation in applications to Horizon 2020.
Jo Johnson reiterated his earlier message stating that the UK Government is fully committed to science and to ensuring that the UK remains a ‘science powerhouse’. The Government is currently undertaking planning and analysis across all areas, and science will be a big part of that. In terms of opportunities, the Government needs communication from the research community to help identify new flexibilities in the relationship with the EU and how they can be exploited. He told the Committee that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is working on a comprehensive Communications Strategy to ensure it is clear that Brexit doesn’t mean increased insularity, but rather that the UK is now even more open and globally-minded. He also said that it has been made clear, both by BIS and by Commissioner Moedas that there should be neither soft (in the construction of consortia) nor hard (in the assessment and awarding of grants) discrimination against UK participants. Statements of assurance from the Commission need to be regularly reiterated and he is working with Moedas on this. Mr Johnson is concerned to hear anecdotal reports that UK partners are being rejected as participants in and leaders of consortia and has set up a unit which is ready to receive evidence. An email address (email@example.com) has been set up to which people to submit examples of this kind of behaviour.
Further details are available for subscribers to the UKRO website and to all from the Select Committee inquiry page.