In this post, Natasha Curley, Senior Research Funding Specialist, discusses the UK’s pending ‘association’ to Horizon Europe and provides guidance on continuing to apply for Horizon Europe funding.
As part of the existing Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU, the UK has announced that it will ‘Associate’ to Horizon Europe. ‘Association’ will give UK based researchers and businesses access to funding under the programme (including ERC & MSCA) on equivalent terms as organisations in EU countries. For this to happen, both sides need to formally adopt the full text of the agreement taking into account the finalised EU Programme Regulations. It is progress on this ‘next step’ that is causing the delay. A number of other non-EU member states have successfully concluded their negotiations to associate to Horizon Europe, but it seems that the UK negotiations are caught up in conversations around wider post-Brexit UK-EU relations.
Whilst it remains the official position of the UK Government to seek full UK Association to Horizon Europe, and it remains the official position of the EU to support this, the ongoing delays and recent stories appearing in the press and on social media are nonetheless causing concern. This blog post outlines some key updates, and hopes to add clarification to what is a complex situation. Please note that all information included in this document is correct at the time of writing. However, this is a continually evolving situation, and we will endeavour to update as new, confirmed information emerges.
Until there is a formal, official announcement (from both the UK Government and the EU) that the UK will not associate to Horizon Europe, we strongly encourage researchers to continue to apply for funding.
The stated intention of both the UK Government and the EU remains for the UK to become an Associated Country, allowing UK-based researchers to apply for the vast majority of calls. The EU has confirmed that, even if UK Association is not finalised before a call submission deadline, UK-based researchers will still be eligible to apply for Horizon Europe funding as if the UK were still a member state, i.e. as a beneficiary. UK researchers can also act as coordinators as if the UK were a still a member state. Applications will be reviewed and prioritised for funding as before, with no disbenefit to including a UK partner or having UK lead.
Without the formal Association of the UK to Horizon Europe, it is not possible for UK organisations to accept awards from the EU, i.e. sign Grant Agreements. However, if we cannot accept an award from the EU, the UK Government will provide full funding instead from the dedicated Guarantee Fund.
Apply for Horizon Europe guarantee funding (UKRI website)
For multi-beneficiary grants, the European Commission project officer will indicate that UK entities are not eligible for funding and will give the following options:
- The University of Edinburgh to move to Associated Partner and the budget removed from the consortium.
- The University of Edinburgh to move to Associated Partner and the budget re-distributed across the consortium (this could include adding new partners to the consortium).
- Withdrawal of the University of Edinburgh from the consortium and re-distribute budget and/or invite a new partner.
The preferred option is for the University of Edinburgh to move to an Associated Partner (option 1 or 2). An Associated Partner will not receive funds from the European Commission and will be required to fund their participation elsewhere. The UKRI guarantee fund has been created for this purpose.
Associated Partners cannot lead the consortium. Therefore, if the University of Edinburgh were the coordinator in the proposal, another coordinator will need to be designated during the Grant Agreement Data Preparation.
Associated Partners must be listed in Article 9.1 of the Grant Agreement; their tasks must be mentioned in Annex 1. For some programmes, applicants may include the total estimated costs of their Associated Partners in the budget for their proposal (i.e. under ‘Other sources of financing’: ‘Financial contributions’ and ‘Own resources’ headings). However, this is for information purposes only. The information is not transferred to the grant as the Associated Partners are not required to report to the European Commission on their costs.
Edinburgh Research Office will issue a letter for each project confirming that we are happy to move to Associated Partner, which can be sent to the European Commission Project Officer by the coordinator.
Associated Partners are included in the Consortium Agreement as they are a member of the consortium and are required to comply with the following European Commission obligations stipulated in the Grant Agreement.
- Proper implementation (Article 11)
- Avoiding conflict of interest (Article 12)
- Confidentiality and security (Article 13)
- Ethics (Article 14)
- Give visibility to the EU funding (Article 17.2)
- Respect specific rules for the action implementation (Article 18)
- Information obligations (Article 19)
- Record-keeping (Article 20)
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