LONDON — The U.K. has passed the final milestone in rejoining Horizon Europe after leaving the EU science program in 2021 as part of Brexit.
British researchers will once again be able to participate in this program at the start of the next month after a formal agreement was approved by the EU-UK Specialised Committee on Participation in Union Programmes on Monday.
Speaking to reporters on a visit to Brussels to mark the occasion, U.K. Science Minister Michelle Donelan described the agreement to join the program as “a bespoke deal.”
“Our association with Horizon gives us a seat at the table in the world’s largest research collaboration program,” she said.
“So there’s good news for scientists, for researchers, up and down the country in the U.K. We’re delighted that we’ve managed to get to a point where we reached an agreement.”
The Cabinet minister conceded that the U.K. would not have voting rights in the scheme under the agreement, but noted that when the U.K. was last a member of the program it led 25 percent of the projects it participated in.
Britain is set to contribute around EUR2. 43 billion per year on average to the EU budget for its participation in the program, as well as roughly EUR154 million for membership of the Copernicus earth observation program.
In a statement issued on Monday the EU’s Innovation Commissioner Iliana Ivanova said she was “happy to welcome the U.K. back to the Horizon family.”
“I have made association of non-EU countries to Horizon Europe my personal priority, and we are delivering,” she said
The U.K.’s participation in the program also plays into Brussels’ long quest to boost Horizon’s budget.
Ivanova said in September that the bloc should aim to attract funding “through association of like-minded countries.”
The current iteration of the program began in 2021 and runs until 2027.
Throughout the Brexit process the U.K. government maintained that it wanted to continue participating in Horizon. However, an association agreement was blocked by the EU amid tensions over the Northern Ireland border.
The Windsor Framework Agreement, which resolved the border dispute earlier this year, has improved the relationship between London and Brussels. It is also widely believed to have opened up the possibility of a science agreement.
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