The UK Treasury has released an updated version of the UK Q&A document on H2020.
The government’s priority remains ensuring the draft Withdrawal Agreement is finalised and concluded. This would mean that UK Horizon 2020 participants and projects would be unaffected by EU exit.
This wish-list sets out the UK Governments hopes for Business As Usual, otherwise known as wanting to both have your cake and eat it.
Looking beyond 2020, the proposed science and innovation accord would form part of the UK’s future partnership with the EU. As set out in the white paper on the future relationship between the UK and EU, the UK wishes to explore association in research and innovation programmes, including Horizon Europe and the parallel Euratom Research and Training Programme.
It’s reassuring to see that policy is striving towards the continuation of both existing projects and entering new consortia.
The government has committed to ensuring all successful UK proposals submitted before EU exit are funded. This includes projects that are only informed of their success or sign a grant agreement after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
However the threat of jumping off the cliff without a net to land on looms large.
The continued participation of UK entities in Horizon 2020 projects after exit in a no deal scenario would depend on the details and mechanism of our participation as a third country.
The enclosed EU statement includes:
If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to be eligible to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article 50 of the grant agreement.
However the UK treasury is hesitant commit to direct funding if their own negotiations are unsuccessful in agreeing a deal:
This statement suggests that, in a no deal scenario, UK participants would continue to be eligible to take part in those calls open to third country participation. The UK is considering what further measures we could take to support UK research and innovation in this scenario if required.
The entire document has a positive outlook on the continuation of funding and involvement for EU projects, both Horizon 2020 and the future Horizon Europe. However it’s difficult to look past the fact that these are the desired outcomes of negotiations rather than commitments already made.