Horizon Europe - the UK’s associate membership is agreed

Researchers across the UK will be relieved to learn that agreement has been reached for the UK to join Horizon Europe as an associate member.

While associate membership was envisaged by the 2020 EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, political difficulties have prevented it from happening for more than two years. The UK Government has filled the vacuum to a limited extent with its Horizon Europe guarantee scheme (more on that here), but the situation left a chill of uncertainty for UK participation in collaborative projects. The science community has consistently pressed for a more permanent solution to the problem.

A Government statement indicates that UK researchers can begin applying for grants and bidding to participate in project immediately, and the UK will, following formal adoption, enjoy a role in leading projects and scheme governance.

The announcement has received an enthusiastic response across the research community. A long list of welcoming statements are included with the Government’s announcement. And many other positive comments are added elsewhere.

Professor Irene Tracey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said

“It is terrific to see UK researchers back at the heart of the world’s largest collaborative research programme. Everyone stands to gain from the new Horizon deal, which will facilitate increased opportunities for international collaboration on setting the scientific agenda, powering fresh discoveries and breakthroughs on issues affecting us all, including disease, climate change and AI.”

And Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse, who has been a vocal proponent of membership, told the BBC:

“I am thrilled to finally see that partnerships with EU scientists can continue. This is an essential step in re-building and strengthening our global scientific standing.”

The UK will, of course, have to pay for its participation in the scheme, with a reduction to reflect its period of absence, but the widespread view is that the benefits of membership will substantially outweigh the costs.

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