The Government has officially begun formal consultations with the EU, with the intention of finalising the UK’s entry into EU science and research programmes, namely Horizon Europe, Euratom and Copernicus. The UK has been left infuriated by the EU’s refusal to sign off their access, caused by ongoing disputes over the Northern Ireland Protocol, and this move signals a clear escalation of the issue.
The UK’s participation was agreed with the EU under the TCA in 2020, which was clear that it would take place at the earliest opportunity when the relevant EU legislation was finalised. Yet 18 months later, the EU has still refused to allow the UK’s association. The saga has left many researchers dismayed due to their reliance on the programmes’ funding, with the ongoing uncertainty affecting their research opportunities. The Government has recently mooted options if association with Horizon Europe is not achieved, which BIVDA has covered here.
Though this does not constitute legal action, is certainly represents a ratcheting up of tensions between Brussels and London. The EU itself is already locked in legal action against the UK Government following Boris Johnson’s decision to unilaterally override parts of the Brexit deal. However, it will be up to the next Prime Minister to solve this particular dilemma.