Horizon: Scientists warn Sunak on EU research programme

3 weeks ago 45

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The EU's probe and innovation programme is worthy €95bn

By Pallab Ghosh

Science correspondent

PM Rishi Sunak should not spell backmost connected his pledge to re-join the EU's subject probe programme, the President of The Royal Society has warned.

Prof Sir Adrian Smith told BBC News that reneging connected authorities promises would beryllium damaging to UK science.

His comments travel reports that Rishi Sunak was holding backmost connected re-joining the €95bn programme, known arsenic Horizon.

BBC News understands that helium is considering renegotiating a cut-down mentation of the Horizon programme.

The Royal Society represents Britain's starring scientists. Prof Smith told BBC News that ministers had consistently said that they were afloat supportive of afloat relation with the Horizon programme erstwhile the EU gave the greenish light.

"There is simply a large woody of interest and anxiousness astatine the rumours that determination is present a tendency to renegotiate our relation of the Horizon programme.

"It volition mean that the continuing uncertainty volition drift connected and we volition person much of the problems we are already seeing, specified arsenic a encephalon drain and the exclusion of enactment from large programmes," helium said.

Image source, PA Media

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European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said talks connected Horizon would statesman instantly erstwhile the Windsor statement was implemented

The presumption was that if differences implicit the Northern Ireland Protocol could beryllium resolved, the UK would afloat re-join the Horizon programme nether presumption akin to those it had earlier Brexit.

But BBC News understands that Mr Sunak is keen connected an alternate probe programme enactment unneurotic by ministers, known arsenic "Plan B". This would beryllium a UK-led programme involving collaboration with non-EU arsenic good arsenic European nations. It was developed successful lawsuit a probe statement could not beryllium reached with the EU.

Sources accidental that portion immoderate aspects of the Horizon programme are appealing to the Prime Minister, specified arsenic grants to idiosyncratic scientists, helium believes that larger organization grants favour France and Germany and whitethorn not correspond bully worth for money.

Image source, Royal Society

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Prof Sir Adrian Smith: ''anxiety and concern'' among the UK's starring scientists

While nary determination has yet been taken, 1 enactment nether information is for a implicit renegotiation of the presumption of the Horizon statement presently successful spot with the EU. This would let the UK authorities to motion up to those parts of the programme that appealed, past usage the remainder of the wealth that would different person been spent connected Horizon connected its Plan B.

Prof Smith told BBC News that helium didn't judge that specified a program would work.

"There is an presumption that we are successful complaint of the renegotiation and that we tin person the bully bits and get retired of the not truthful bully bits. All past shows that this benignant of cherry-picking and dialog Is not up for grabs.

''The full happening is simply a bundle and the constituent is that the full programme has successful the past been bully for the UK," helium said.

Prof Sarah Main of the Campaign for Science and Engineering said that the UK's erstwhile fruitful rank of the EU programme had attracted concern from the hi-tech companies her organisation represents and that her members privation thing abbreviated of the afloat relation that is presently connected the table.

"We privation to spot this with each speed. If the Prime Minister has not been adjacent to the discussion, we request to marque wide that that is the connection from the probe assemblage and successful the UK's economical involvement to unafraid this woody arsenic rapidly arsenic possible," she said.

Prof James Wilsdon, a specializer successful probe argumentation astatine University College London, said the nonaccomplishment to perpetrate to the existent statement connected connection from the EU showed that the authorities was not listening to the subject community.

"To support the full UK probe strategy hanging connected successful limbo for 2 years portion we ostensibly question association; past to locomotion distant erstwhile we yet person it successful our grasp would, I think, beryllium for galore UK scientists, the last straw," helium said.

Horizon Europe is simply a collaborative probe programme involving Europe's starring probe institutes and hi-tech companies. EU subordinate nations each lend funds which are past allocated to individuals oregon organisations by adept scientists based connected the merit of probe proposals.

The authorities negotiated subordinate rank of the programme successful the withdrawal statement pursuing Brexit, due to the fact that it felt it was important for the UK to beryllium involved. But the EU went backmost connected its portion of the woody aft disputes emerged implicit the Northern Ireland Protocol and British engagement successful the prestigious programme has been near successful limbo ever since.

The statement of the Windsor Framework past week paved the mode for the UK to re-join.

When the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the Mr Sunak were asked astir re-entry to the Horizon programme astatine a associated property conference, Ms von der Leyen enthusiastically remarked that it was "good quality for scientists and researchers, successful the European Union and successful the UK," but Mr Sunak did not comment.

He besides failed to marque a committedness to the programme erstwhile asked astatine Prime Minister's Questions this week and the FT has reported that helium was holding backmost connected committing to the programme.

Downing Street has been approached for remark but has not responded.

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