January 2020 update – impact of Brexit on EU funded research under Horizon 2020 (H2020)

Áine Ryan, Research Funding Manager (EU and International), provides the latest update regarding the impact of Brexit on Horizon 2020 funding. Researchers and businesses based in the UK can continue to participate in, bid for and lead projects (including ERC and MSCA-IF) in the European Union’s (EU) flagship programme Horizon 2020 (H2020), as if the UK remained a Member State, even after the UK exits the EU on 31 January 2020.

Note: the information and links included in this post are correct as of 27 January 2020.

Key message

Researchers and businesses based in the UK can continue to participate in, bid for and lead projects (including ERC and MSCA-IF) in the European Union’s (EU) flagship programme Horizon 2020 (H2020), as if the UK remained a Member State, even after the UK exits the EU on 31 January 2020. This applies to all calls with deadlines under the H2020 programme. Successful projects will continue to be funded by the EU even if the end date falls after 31 December 2020.

The UK remains the second highest recipient of Horizon 2020 funding for science and innovation and UK organisations are encouraged to continue to bid into calls for grants until the end of the Horizon 2020 programme.

What do I need to do?

If you currently hold an award, or if you are awaiting the outcome of a submitted application, you do not need to do anything.

If you are considering applying for EU funding under H2020, The University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Research Office strongly encourages you to do so.

If you have collaborators or potential ERC or MSCA-IF applicants who believe that the UK can no longer participate, please share this blog post with them. Please also get in touch with the  international research funding experts in Edinburgh Research Office via europe@ed.ac.uk who can provide you with further information and evidence to reassure them.

Latest update – the UK is leaving the EU ‘with a deal’

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (‘the deal’) has now passed through all stages of the UK parliament. The European Parliament has commenced internal procedures to approve the Withdrawal Agreement, with final approval expected to occur on Wednesday 29 January.

It is now considered highly likely that the UK will leave the EU at 11pm (UK time) on 31 January 2020, with a deal in place.

The terms of the Withdrawal Agreement (‘the deal’) relate only to the so-called ‘transition period’ i.e. 1 February 2020 to 31 December 2020.

All previous communications that contained information on scenario planning for H2020 funded projects and calls in a ‘no deal’ situation can now be disregarded.

Negotiations are now commencing to define the future relationship between the UK and the EU, with the expectation that the terms of this future relationship will be agreed by 31 December 2020.

Can I still apply for an ERC or MSCA-IF grant?

Yes, researchers can continue to apply for ERC and MSCA-IF deadlines under H2020 and be hosted by UK organisations as normal. If successful, the award will continue as normal even if the start or end date falls after 31 December 2020. It is no longer necessary to submit your application before 31 January 2020, although we encourage all applicants to submit as early as possible, to allow sufficient time for checks and validation The EU online grant submission portal (ECAS) allows for applications to be submitted multiple times before the final cut-off deadline.

Can I still participate in or coordinate a collaborative multi-beneficiary project?

Yes, you can continue to apply for and coordinate projects under the H2020 programme, as if the UK remained a Member State, even after the UK exits the EU on 31 January 2020. Successful projects will be fully funded by the EU or their duration, even if the end date falls after 31 December 2020.

What does this mean for research funding?

  1. Current ‘live awards’ and awards notified as successful but with the Grant Agreement not yet signed – these awards are safe, and will continue to be fully funded by the EU for the lifetime of the project even if the end date is after 31 January 2020 or after 31 December 2020.
  1. PhD students, postdocs, technicians, project managers etc. funded by EU awards – if your salary or stipend is currently funded from a H2020 project, the funding for your salary or stipend is secure for the duration of your studentship / contract even if the end date is after 31 January 2020 or after 31 December 2020.
  1. Any applications already submitted (including ERC and MSCA) that are awaiting the outcome of evaluation – successful projects will be fully funded by the EU for the lifetime of the project even if the end date is after 31 January 2020 or after 31 December 2020. 
  1. Collaborative multi beneficiary deadlines falling after 31 January 2020 and funded under H2020 – you can continue to apply for and coordinate projects under the H2020 programme, as if the UK remained a Member State, even after the UK exits the EU on 31 January 2020. Successful projects will be fully funded by the EU or their duration, even if the end date falls after 31 December 2020.
  1. Mono-beneficiary schemes (ERC & MSCA-IF) – with deadlines falling after 31 January 2020 and funded under H2020 – you can continue to apply for ERC & MSCA-IF calls that are funded from the H2020 programme. Submission, evaluation, and payment of awards will continue as if the UK as if the UK remained a Member State, even after the UK exits the EU on 31 January 2020. Successful projects will be fully funded by the EU for their duration, even if the end date falls after 31 December 2020.
  1. IMPORTANT: exceptions – A very limited number of UK Horizon 2020 projects, which involve access to security-related sensitive information restricted for EU Member States, may be unable to continue after EU Exit in their current form. The government expects the European Commission to inform participants if this is the case. If you suspect your project may fall into this category, or if you receive a communication from the EC, please contact europe@ed.ac.uk urgently.

What about the UK Government Underwrite guarantee and the UKRI portal?

This underwrite guarantee funding was a contingency plan to ensure research projects and participation continued uninterrupted in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal i.e. no deal Brexit. A no-deal Brexit will now not occur, so the UK Gov underwrite is no longer needed, because as per the terms of the Withdrawal agreement (the ‘deal’) the UK can continue to participate in H2020 as if the UK remined a member state. Awards will now continue to be paid by the EC for their duration, even if the end date falls after 31 December 2020

How can Edinburgh Research Office help?

A calendar of remaining calls is available here (University staff only). If you are interested in applying for any of these calls, please contact your School / Centre Research Office or your dedicated Edinburgh Research Office Research Funding Specialist.

If you are interested in applying, but are unsure about what opportunities are available under H2020, please get in touch with Edinburgh Research Office EU & International research funding experts via europe@ed.ac.uk who can advise on specific calls that may be relevant to your research interests. As a first step, please take a look at the H2020 deadlines calendar here.

Subscribe to the Edinburgh Research Office blog for all the latest updates on EU research funding opportunities, and look out for events in the coming months.

If you have collaborators, potential MSCA-IF or ERC applicants who are unsure about the impact of Brexit, please share this blog post with them, and get in touch with the Edinburgh Research Office EU & International research funding experts via europe@ed.ac.uk who can provide you with further information and evidence to reassure them.

What happens after 31 December 2020?

Once the calls for proposals under H2020 have concluded (some may have deadlines in early 2021) the next framework programme – Horizon Europe – will run from 2021 to 2027. The eligibility of UK based researchers and businesses to participate in calls issued under the Horizon Europe programme from Jan 2021 onwards, is not yet confirmed. UK participation is dependent on the UK securing ‘Associated Country’ status. The EU has not yet finalised the legal conditions for securing Associated Country status for Horizon Europe. Once these conditions have been approved by the EU, the UK is expected to begin negotiations with the EU to secure ‘associated country status’. The timelines for this are not clear, and it is possible Horizon Europe calls for funding may be issued before the UK’s Associated Country status is confirmed. The UK Government has previously stated that it wishes to ‘have the option to associate’ to Horizon Europe, and Minister Chris Skidmore reiterated this is in a recent House of Commons Q&A session.

Where can I find out more?

Subscribe to the Edinburgh Research Office blog for the latest information on EU funding including the latest information on future UK participation in Horizon Europe.

Further info is also available from UKRI, UKRO and Universities UK.

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