Delays in formalising the UK’s association to Horizon Europe are causing growing concern amongst the UK research and innovation community.

In December 2020, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement revealed that the UK would associate to Horizon Europe. This meant UK entities would be able to access funding on equivalent terms as organisations in EU countries.

However, ten months on, the European Commission is yet to sign off on the deal. In recent weeks, Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, has said that the UK will only be allowed to associate to Horizon Europe once other political disputes are resolved (Source: Science | Business).

Growing Concern

Organisations in both the EU and the UK are becoming increasingly concerned about the delay. The European University Association has claimed that delays are creating unnecessary insecurity within the European knowledge community, which threatens plans for scientific cooperation.

In a recent statement, they called for the process of association to be accelerated:

“Europe’s universities therefore urge the European Commission and the UK government to finalise Protocol I linked to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement as a basis for UK association and to move onward to a fast and successful association of the UK to Horizon Europe.”

What does this mean for UK applicants?

Despite recent uncertainty, UK entities can continue to apply for funding from Horizon Europe. However, grant agreements will only be signed once association has been finalised.

In an earlier Q&A on the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe, the European Commission said they expect the UK’s association agreement to enter into force before the first grant agreement signings.

With several countries already formally associated to Horizon Europe, we are hopeful that the UK’s agreement will follow soon. Share your thoughts in the comments below and please contact us if you have any questions.