A parliamentary committee has called out Brussels for blocking the UK’s entry to the Horizon Europe research and development programme, claiming that it is damaging British businesses.
A report from Westminster’s European Scrutiny Committee today said delays were leading to “increasing opportunity costs” for British businesses and research institutions as they are frozen out of new projects.
Horizon Europe is a seven-year €95bn (£80.4bn) science research fund that was set up this year by the EU, with eligible businesses, researchers and institutions able to apply for grants.
The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement stated that the UK would be able to join the programme, however the EU’s research commissioner Mariya Gabriel says this will be blocked until there is an agreement on how to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol.
This has left British businesses unable to apply for grants, despite the fact that the UK government has paid for a portion of the fund.
European Scrutiny Committee chair, and veteran Eurosceptic Tory MP, Bill Cash said: “It’s been the best part of a year and British research institutions remain frozen out of key projects and funding despite agreement on participation.
“With each passing day the opportunities are missed, British institutions are left high and dry while science marches on without them and the returns on our financial contribution edge lower.
“This needs to be addressed swiftly, so we’re calling on the Government to lay out the steps it is taking to ensure UK participation is formalised.”
British universities and researchers have begun to voice their concerns about the delay and have called for answers from the EU.
Gabriel said last week that the EU was waiting on “transversal” political issues to be resolved, referring to negotiations over the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.
“I really hope [researchers] will keep their passion and patience,” Gabriel said.