• Call for Government to Commit to Horizon Europe
    Royal Society President Venki Ramakrishnan

News & Views

Call for Government to Commit to Horizon Europe

Jun 15 2020

The Royal Society President Venki Ramakrishnan has called on the Government to end the uncertainty around the UK’s commitment to associating to the EU’s research programmes after Brexit. He voiced fears that with just over six months to go until Brexit, researchers will start leaving the UK , amid uncertainty around ability to access the unique collaborations, networks and funds from the EU’s €95 billion funding stream.

“Science is global and in six months we could be cutting a vital link between UK and European scientists. That would be a serious error of judgement that would do harm to UK science, our economy and ultimately the public,” Venki Ramakrishnan said.

“This is a Government that has shown a great commitment to science and the role it can play in creating jobs and rebuilding the economy. Yet we have only had kind words when it comes to future scientific cooperation with the EU. It is now time to back up those kind words with a firm financial commitment to show we remain an outward facing country.”

Calling for the financial commitment of £2 billion a year as a show of faith for science, The Royal Society has outlined in a letter to Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove that;

  • Collaboration through the EU Framework Programmes has led to advances in medicine and public heath, cleaner energy, environment and transport innovations, the creation of jobs in UK regions, as well as growth and export opportunities for UK businesses
  • Europe is by some distance the UK’s biggest and fastest growing scientific collaborator. Just over a third of UK research papers are co-authored with researchers in EU and associated countries
  • The UK is leading one in five European Research Council funded projects related to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Uncertainty raises the prospect of a multi-million pound funding gap emerging at the end of the year and the resulting loss of active research groups, networks and partnerships.

A firm financial commitment “will give much needed confidence to scientists that the Government is committed to negotiating an agreement on Horizon Europe and also has a back-up plan in the event of delays or no eventual agreement. Critically, it will help avert major disruption to our science capability in six to 12 months when the UK will most need its researchers in COVID-19 mitigation and recovery efforts,” Mr Ramakrishnan added.


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