The United Kingdom is set to rejoin Horizon Europe, the European Union’s €95.5 billion science research programme, after a two-year absence, both sides confirmed on Thursday morning.
The deal means British scientists can once more benefit from EU funding and collaborate more closely with their European counterparts. It also signals increasingly positive EU-UK diplomatic relations.
“The EU and UK are key strategic partners and allies, and today’s agreement proves that point. We will continue to be at the forefront of global science and research,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement he had secured a “bespoke” agreement including “improved financial terms of association.”
Britain will be expected to contribute almost €2.6 billion per year on average in order to participate in Horizon Europe and in Copernicus, the bloc’s satellite programme.
Continued membership in the research scheme was on the UK’s post-Brexit wish list, but it could not be fulfilled due to an ongoing dispute between London and Brussels on arrangements for Northern Ireland.
But talks resumed in February after both sides struck a new deal on post-Brexit arrangements, the Windsor Framework.
The UK was previously one of the main recipients of EU grants under the Horizon programme, used to fund key research in science and technology.
British universities had repeatedly warned that failing to secure post-Brexit access to EU research funds could severely undermine the UK’s academic leadership and cause a brain drain.
Earlier this week, the incoming EU research chief Iliana Ivanova underlined the importance of creating “stronger ties with like-minded countries” by “associating them to Union programs.” She has also suggested the UK’s association to the programme could help secure further investments.
Brussels is also currently in negotiations with Switzerland over access to the Horizon scheme.
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