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24 Aug 2018

UK government paper outlines no-deal Brexit scenario

On 23 August 2018, the government of the United Kingdom published a set of papers on "How to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal". While Brexit negotiations are still ongoing, time is running short, so the papers intend to provide guidance how to prepare for Brexit across different fields, in case no agreement between the EU and the UK can be reached.

One of the set of Uk government documents on the no-deal scenario deals with "Horizon 2020 funding if there's no Brexit deal". While emphasising that it considers the no-deal scenario an "unlikely event", the paper clearly states that UK organisations may be unable to access funding for Horizon 2020 projects after exit day. The government has announced previously that it will guarantee funding for EU projects submitted before Brexit, including Horizon 2020 projects, for the full duration of the projects.

However, this guarantee does not cover funding for organisations from other countries who are in consortia with UK participants. This may prove a particularly difficult issue in cases where UK participants lead a consortium and are responsible for distributing funding to the other participants. The UK government says it is still "seeking to discuss how this could best be addressed in a ‘no deal’ scenario with the European Commission". These discussions should also address the issue of projects where the UK’s change in status from member state to third country could lead to concerns about ongoing compliance with Horizon 2020 rules (for example, where a consortium no longer meets the threshold for member state and/or associated country participants).

According to the paper, the UK government intends "that UK researchers and businesses would be able to apply to and participate in all those Horizon 2020 calls open to third country participants from the date of exit, with funding provided via the extended guarantee". However, details of the UK's continued participation in the Framework Programme as a potential third country still need to be discussed with the EC.

The paper also points out that third-country participation is not possible in some areas of Horizon 2020, including European Research Council (ERC) grants, some Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and the SME instrument, which currently make up a considerable part of the UK's Framework Programme participation. For the next Framework Programme, Horizon Europe, the UK is seeking to "form a cooperative accord with the EU on science and innovation", as already outlined earlier in the UK's White Paper on the future relationship between the UK and the EU. The UK government is also "considering what other measures may be necessary to support UK research and innovation in a ‘no deal’ scenario".

Apart from Framework Programme participation issues, the paper confirms the UK government's commitment to its goal to increase UK R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, and its work to develop a new International Research and Innovation Strategy. 

For more information:

UK government paper: Horizon 2020 funding if there's no Brexit deal"

Collection of all UK government papers on "How to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal"

For comments on the UK government paper see e.g. Science|Business article: UK's no-deal Brexit plans warn of partial access to Horizon 2020

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