DexEU will publish its science position paper today, and here's what it'll say

Catherine Neilan
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Britain will seek to remain "a hub for international talent" in science and innovation after leaving the European Union, the government will say today.

The Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU) will say in a new position paper published today that it will be "vital" for existing research communities within the UK to access "the high level skills that support the science and innovation sector". The UK will seek to agree a system for "continued recognition of professional qualifications", in its bid to continue welcoming "the brightest and best" after Brexit.

The government is eager to retain the UK's position in science, noting that the UK currently boasts four of the world's top ten universities, a world class intellectual property regime and "more Nobel Laureates than any country outside the United States".

The paper will stress the UK's work in the space sector, nuclear research, particle physics and medicine and highlight existing programmes in which non-EU countries participate in Europe-wide initiatives such as Galileo and Copernicus.

Brexit secretary David Davis will say “As the Prime Minister set out in her Lancaster House speech, a global Britain must be a country that looks to the future. That means being one of the best places in the word for science and innovation.

“This paper sends a clear message to the research and innovation community that we value their work and we feel it is crucial that we maintain collaboration with our European partners after we exit.

“We want to attract the brightest minds to the UK to build on the already great work being done across the country to ensure that our future is bright and we grow this important sector.”

Science minister Jo Johnson adds: “From space exploration and developing better and safer medicines, to nuclear fusion research, the UK and Europe have a long history of close collaboration to meet the world’s great challenges. It’s in our mutual benefit to maintain this successful partnership, and this paper clearly outlines our desire to have a full and open discussion with the EU to shape our joint future."

But while the government's position was welcomed, experts noted that it would not be a straightforward demand.

Allie Renison, head of EU and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “The IoD has long argued that the Government should spell out its objectives in this space, even if it will take some negotiation to achieve them, and warrant continued payments into the EU budget to maximise our access to them.

“However, we have also seen from Switzerland’s experience that putting controls on free movement of people has had consequences for its continued participation in these EU initiatives. We call on both the UK and EU to prioritise flexibility in their respective approaches to these policy areas.

"There is clearly a need for skills and talent to move as freely as possible across borders in order to continue taking advantage of these collaborative programmes - today’s paper acknowledges the importance of these flows. We would hope that furthering our shared interests in advancing science, research and innovation cooperation is kept as free from other politicised parts of the negotiations as possible.”

Today's is the latest in a flurry of position papers the government has published setting out the UK's stance on issues it plans to negotiate with their counterparts in Brussels. Others have included the European Court of Justice, dispute resolution and goods on the market.

There is still no sign of a financial services paper, however.

It will be published a day before parliament's second reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill, ahead of a vote next Monday. Labour confirmed earlier today that it is whipping its MPs to vote against the "power-grab" bill.

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