British scientists are “frozen” from the EU’s £ 80 billion Horizon Europe research program due to the ongoing dispute over the Brexit protocol in Northern Ireland, a House of Lords committee has said.
Participation in the scientific research program is hampered by the ongoing dispute, said European review board chairman Sir Bill Cash.
British scientists, who previously led European research consortia, campaigned for a seat in the Horizon Europe program and last fall they were nearly left behind in a dispute over the funding mechanism for future participation. to the £ 80 billion program.
But now it has emerged that although an agreement to include them was reached in the broader trade and cooperation agreement in December, Horizon Europe’s associated membership has still not been ratified.
“It’s been the best part of the year and UK research institutions remain stuck on key projects and funding despite the participation agreement,” said Cash, a veteran Eurosceptic. “With each passing day, opportunities are missed, UK institutions are left dry while science advances without them and the returns on our financial contribution dwindle.
“This needs to be resolved quickly, so we call on the government to define the measures it is taking to ensure that UK participation is formalized. “
The Brexit Divorce Bill committee report claimed the UK was indeed penalized because of the dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol.
Other countries outside the EU, including Norway, gained formal association status in September, but the committee hinted that the UK’s ratification was delayed until the broader dispute. on the protocol is completed.
“It appears that the delays on the EU side are not just procedural, but also related to ongoing political disagreements between the EU and the government over the Northern Ireland Protocol,” the committee said.
The European Commission has insisted that the UK is treated as a full associate member of Horizon, but the UK is in fact locked out as funding for UK participants “can only be signed off. ‘once the association comes into force,’ she said.