The last two years since Brexit was voted on have left UK citizens (though not exclusively) seeking for clarity on its ramifications. A most recent draft Brexit agreement released on November 14th, 2018 provided initial statements that we can address. Truly, it is far too soon to acquire any solid bottom lines or jump to any clear-cut conclusions. Nevertheless, initial and important implications of the UK’s future relationship with Europe can be discussed. Presently, our particular concern relates to science and research. Therefore, we have gathered initial and important points relating to the effects of Brexit on Horizon 2020 research. We will continue to update as additional information follows suit.

The implications of Brexit on Horizon 2020 until it ends

Rightly so, many UK scientists were focused on the more immediate effects of Brexit to acquiring funding for their research. For those considering to apply to the Horizon 2020 funding scheme, its availability to them suddenly became a cause for concern. According to the UK official government policy – until the end of 2020 the status of UK in Horizon 2020 will remain unchanged.

This means that:

  1. UK scientists will remain eligible for research grants under the current Horizon 2020 funding scheme. This will stay true until the programme ends.
  2. Participants and projects currently funded under Horizon 2020 funding scheme will remain unaffected
  3. “Member state” status will remain the case for the lifetime of individual projects already funded by Horizon 2020

This is very positive news indeed. Virtually no immediate effects of Brexit on Horiozn 2020 funding for UK researchers.  All UK researchers can continue to apply for EU funding schemes as normal.

What happens after Horizon 2020?  

With Horizon 2020 nearing its end, attention is naturally turning to the following funding scheme – Horizon Europe. Again, UK scientists are already wondering what will be in store for them once Brexit is finalized. Though it is not certain that UK scientists will be able to participate in the next Horizon Europe funding programme, that latest Brexit draft agreement offers a very positive scenario. As can be understood, the current option is focused on allowing the UK to participate in Horizon Europe as an “associated” country, rather than as a “member state”, as it is now.

What it means to be an “associated country”

Currently, there are 16 countries (in Europe and outside of Europe), which are “associated countries” to the Horizon 2020 programme, including Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Israel. The association agreements with these countries essentially mean they can participate in Horizon 2020 under the same conditions as legal entities from the Member States, and it is expected to remain like that in Horizon Europe as well. In other words, not much will change with regards to the ways UK researchers can opt to secure funding through EU funding schemes.

Learn from the experience of applicants from an Associated Country

The Enspire Science team, being located in Tel-Aviv, Israel, has vast experience in applying and consulting EU funding projects since FP4 (1996). Though our work spans to all EU countries, a part of the work our team has done to date was with Israeli applicants under the status of Israel as an “Associated country”.

We can report that working under these terms has no actual effect to any of these applications. Israeli applicants have participated in any of the Horizon 2020 grants (except for Euratom), including ERC, with no problems or issues stemming from the “Associated country” status. Israeli entities served as regular partners in Horizon 2020 consortia, as well as Coordinators in such projects, and PIs in ERC projects, like other participants from member states. Bottom line: we can report that the practical work of “Associated Country” entities in Horizon 2020 is no different than compared to any member state.

To conclude, there is still a lot to be uncovered about the definite effect of Brexit beyond Horizon 2020. Though a change is certainly in the Horizon, it seems we can at least be hopeful that the UK will continue to be involved in European research moving forward, this time as an “Associated Country”.

Categories: Horizon 2020