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Delay to Horizon Europe association damaging to UK and EU research

3 March 2022

The House of Lords European Affairs Committee has today written to the UK Government, the European Commission, and the European Parliament. The letters raise concerns over the ongoing and mutually damaging delay in the UK’s association to the EU’s Horizon Europe programme. The Committee views the apparent politicisation of mutually beneficial scientific cooperation as a deeply regrettable development and urges both sides to work together to unblock the impasse.


On 1 February 2022 the European Affairs Committee heard evidence from representatives of the UK and EU science and research communities on the UK’s association to the EU’s Horizon Europe Programme.

Horizon Europe is the EU’s flagship funding programme for research and innovation. Entities from both the EU and ‘associated’ third countries can participate in Horizon Europe by applying for funding. Alongside the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), the UK and EU reached agreement in principle that the UK would associate to Horizon Europe. However, this is still yet to be finalised more than a year on.

At the first meeting of the TCA Specialised Committee on Participation in Union Programmes, the UK “stressed that participation would bring benefits for scientific research across both the UK and the EU”. In response, the EU said that “the completion of EU procedures in the current political setting does not seem opportune as there are serious difficulties in the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and the TCA.”

The Committee’s letters

The Committee found that finalising the UK’s association to Horizon Europe would represent a genuine ‘win-win’ for both the UK and the EU. As well as the direct opportunities for funding, Horizon Europe also unlocks wider commercial, scientific and cultural benefits. The Committee warns that the current delay is already eroding confidence among researchers and undermining funding opportunities, a situation that will worsen the longer the delay continues.

In its letters to the UK Government and the EU Commission, the Committee expresses concern that the UK’s accession is apparently being treated as a negotiating pawn in the context of separate difficulties in the UK-EU relationship. The Committee’s letters urge the UK and EU to work together to de-politicise the issue and unblock the current impasse, which it argues would be manifestly in the interests of both sides.

As part of its responsibilities for intra-parliamentary dialogue, the Committee has also written separately to the Chair of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy in the European Parliament, Cristian-Silviu Busoi MEP. This letter highlights the Committee’s correspondence with the Foreign Secretary and the Commissioner, and expresses hope that the two Committees can work in tandem to encourage the UK Government and the EU Commission to unblock the impasse.

Further information