EU in meltdown after ‘punishing’ UK with BAN from key project- Britain strikes new deal

Lord Frost gives update on UK’s participation in Horizon Europe

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Horizon Europe is the European Union’s key research and innovation programme that the UK was supposed to contribute £15billlion to over a seven-year period. This would let scientists from across the continent collaborate with European partners and access the EU’s huge pool of funding. But Britain was banned from participating due to Brexit disputes and was told it could not re-join the programme until they were resolved.

EU chiefs have told Britain that it cannot rejoin the programme until Brexit disputes such as the fishing row and the Northern Ireland protocol have been resolved.

Scientists from across Europe have pressured the EU to allow the UK and Switzerland, who was also blocked from the project, to participate in the European research programme.

Under the slogan “Stick to Science”, representatives of the international scientific community demanded that the EU, the Swiss Federal Council and the British government “put aside political discrepancies in favour of scientific cooperation”.

Former Conservative Peer and Brexiteer Matt Ridley said that the EU banned the UK to “punish” it for leaving the bloc.

He added: “Countries like Iceland and Norway are not only taking part in the research programmes but are leading some of them, even though they are not members of the European Union.”

The petition from the researchers received 200 signatures, including from e Nobel Prize winners, companies and umbrella organisations.

The campaign also received backing from Swiss universities like the ETH Zurich, the EPFL Lausanne and the Association of British Universities.

This comes as the snubbed countries Britain and Switzerland issued a joint statement of bilateral cooperation intended to boost new research partnerships.

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) signed an agreement intended to enable partnerships and foster alliances between researchers in the UK and Switzerland.

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, UKRI Chief Executive, said: “The UK and Switzerland have thriving research communities with successful collaborations over many years.

“UK Research and Innovation is committed to maintaining and growing its partnerships with outstanding research and innovation funders across the globe.”

Matthias Egger, President of the National Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation, said: “Among all international collaborations reported in SNSF grants, the UK is among the three most frequently cited countries.

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“We are committed to helping the research communities in Switzerland and the UK join their efforts.”

On Wednesday, Science Minister George Freeman announced that Britain is hoping to partner with the “science and innovation powerhouse” as part of his £6billion backup plan to Horizon Europe.

He has suggested that his “Plan B” could mean collaborating with the UK’s Five Eyes partners (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US), as well as Japan.

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