Victory as UK secures bespoke deal to rejoin EU’s Horizon science programme

Rishi Sunak and von der Leyen discuss Horizon Europe

Britain has rejoined the European Union’s £85 billion Horizon science research programme under a new bespoke deal.

The breakthrough follows a call between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen yesterday.

Mr Sunak secured improved financial terms in what he described as the “right deal for British taxpayers”.

He said: “Innovation has long been the foundation for prosperity in the UK, from the breakthroughs improving healthcare to the technological advances growing our economy.

“With a wealth of expertise and experience to bring to the global stage, we have delivered a deal that enables UK scientists to confidently take part in the world’s largest research collaboration programme – Horizon Europe.

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“We have worked with our EU partners to make sure that this is right deal for the UK, unlocking unparalleled research opportunities, and also the right deal for British taxpayers.”

The UK will not pay for the time it has been excluded since 2021, with costs starting from January 2024.

Britain will also have a new automatic clawback means it will be compensated if UK scientists receive significantly less money than the UK puts into the programme.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said: “Today is a fantastic day for UK science and our whole economy.

“We have listened to the sector, and through hard work and negotiation we have secured an excellent deal for researchers, taxpayers and businesses.

“The Horizon programme is unrivalled in its scope and opens up a world of opportunity for cooperation on science that delivers real-world benefits for the UK – creating jobs, boosting our economy and opening up collaboration for the sector with some of our closest partners, whether on tackling climate change or advancing cancer research.

“This deal is a crucial step forward on our mission to become a science and tech superpower by 2030.”

The UK will be participating as a fully associated member for the remaining life of the scheme to 2027.

British scientists can apply for grants and bid to take part in projects from today.

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The UK’s associate membership of Horizon was agreed in principle as part of the Brexit Trade and Co-operation Agreement.

But Britain was frozen out for two years during a bitter Brexit row over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

However relations have thawed since Mr Sunak struck his Windsor Framework deal to resolve issues with post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Horizon is a collaboration involving Europe’s leading research institutes and technology companies.

EU member states contribute funds, which are then allocated to individuals or organisations on merit to explore subjects such as climate change, medical advances and artificial intelligence.

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