14 September 2023

UK rejoins Horizon Europe research funding programme

The UK had been excluded from the scheme due to dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The UK government has announced that it will rejoin the €95bn Horizon Europe research framework.

The scheme is a collaboration involving Europe’s leading research institutes and technology companies. It is the largest research and innovation programme globally and is a hugely important source of support for some of the world’s most important research projects.

Horizon Europe runs until 2027, and the new agreement between the UK and the European Commission (EC) means that UK researchers can now apply for grants from the fund.

Prior to Brexit the UK had been a full member, and when the UK formally left the EU in 2020 associate membership was agreed as part of the Brexit trade deal. Associate membership is the closest form of involvement for non-EU countries and is open to countries with a strong research and innovation capacity.

Due to dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol however, the UK has been excluded from the scheme for the past three years. This was resolved in March 2023 with the agreement of the Windsor Framework, and the past six months have seen Brussels and the UK negotiating the details of membership, including the UK’s financial contribution to the research programme.

Now, as a reinstated associate member of Horizon Europe, Britain will join other non-EU nations, including Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and Ukraine.

The scientific and academic community has warmly welcomed the news.

Commenting on the announcement, Mike Bowen, Director of Knowledge and Research at The College of Optometrists said:

"The College of Optometrists is very pleased with the news that the UK will be re-joining the Horizon Europe scheme.

“This scheme provides vital funding for research, but even more importantly supports UK researchers in building international relationships and networks that make science more efficient and effective."

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