Brexit in perspective: Reasons to be optimistic about UK participation in Horizon 2020 and beyond

In today’s blog, Alan Kennedy European Funding Advisor for the Research Support Office, talks to us about why we have (even more) cause to be optimistic about the European Funding landscape and how you can keep up to date with all related news via the University’s European Team.

tl;dr – we can still apply for Horizon 2020, our funding is guaranteed after Brexit and there may be even more good news in the pipeline!

Brexit may feel like it has been around forever, but it’s only been 631 days since the UK voted to leave the EU, or 0.39% of the University’s History. In the other 99.61% of the time, we’ve had some pretty significant events here in Scotland (the Black Death, the Reformation, the Poll Tax…) and through them all the University has continued to produce world-leading research. So we have no excuses to hold back now!

Of course for many, that 0.39% of the time has had a significant personal and professional impact.We on the EU team are keenly aware of this with ¾ of our team citizens of another EU country, and more widely working with colleagues and project partners from all over Europe. During this time there have been periods of intense political activity; media discussion, disinformation and speculation regarding all aspects of Brexit.

We can still apply to Horizon 2020!

As it stands, we are still members of the European Union and so can apply to participate or coordinate projects all EU funded schemes (including Horizon2020 and Erasmus+) and receive funding until such point that we are no longer a member. Shortly after the referendum, the Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined a guarantee of EU funding beyond date the UK leaves the EU. Meaning that the UK’s funding for participation in successful projects (submitted before the date we leave the EU) will, if EU funding is not available, be guaranteed by the UK Government. This removes significant risk from our participation in prospective consortia bidding EU calls.

Recent developments..

So, what has changed recently then? On the 8th of December the negotiators of the European Union and the UK Government published a Joint Report on the progress during Phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations. These points have been agreed in in principle between both sides, with a view to being included in a final binding Withdrawal Agreement before the UK leaves the EU.

Among the three issues covered, the Financial settlement was one. In this section the report states:

UK participation in programmes of the MFF 2014-2020

People had a tough time in Europe before Brexit too

Following withdrawal from the Union, the UK will continue to participate in the Union programmes financed by the MFF 2014-2020 until their closure (excluding participation in financial operations which give rise to a contingent liability for which the UK is not liable as from the date of withdrawal). Entities located in the UK will be entitled to participate in such programmes. Participation in Union programmes will require the UK and UK beneficiaries to respect all relevant Union legal provisions including co-financing. Accordingly, the eligibility to apply to participate in Union programmes and Union funding for UK participants and projects will be unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the Union for the entire lifetime of such projects.”

What does this mean?

If adopted, and we all hope this happens, it will mean that existing projects will continue to receive funding from EU, as we do now up,  for the lifetime of the project. Negating the need for the Chancellor’s guarantee. It also means that, beyond the date the UK leaves the EU, we can continue to apply for Horizon 2020 funding up until the end of the Horizon 2020 scheme on the same terms we do now.

Onward to Framework Programme 9 (FP9)

The UK government has made clear a number of times that it would like to reach agreement with the EU on matters of research and Innovation. The Joint Report reflects this and shows the level of involvement post Brexit the UK Government are considering. However, we don’t yet know what form this will take. The UK’s universities, including the University of Edinburgh, are fully participating in the preparation of Framework Programme 9 so that we don’t miss any opportunities. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as produced a Q&A document addressing the above. The University maintains a page, The university and Europe, with further information about the impact of the referendum result on current and prospective students, and university staff.

If you are considering applying for EU funding, or are concerned about Brexit, the impact on existing projects, potential proposals or are receiving queries from collaborators please do get in touch.

Alan Kennedy is the European Funding Advisor in the European Funding Team within the Research Support Office. 

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