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£14bn of proposed Horizon research funding unaccounted for

15 June 2021

An influential group of MPs has highlighted a £14bn gap in funding for the UK’s contribution to the Horizon Europe research funding programme in a new report published today.

Questions had been raised by the Committee to Amanda Solloway, the Minister responsible for Horizon, in May over how the UK will fund its participation.

Her estimates revealed in the latest European Scrutiny Committee’s report predict the up-front cost of the pan-European fund to the Treasury to be £15bn over the seven-year programme. The programme will then invest the majority of this back into UK science projects. However, the report found that just £1bn of this has so far been committed following correspondence with Ms Solloway.

MPs on the Committee drew attention to the fact that there is ‘substantial uncertainty’ about how the UK will meet its contribution considering that the UK agreed not to keep its yearly contributions equal throughout the 2021-2027 period of the scheme. Annual payments are likely to be £1bn early in the programme, climbing to around £3bn in later years.

Ms Solloway failed to address this point to the Committee, stating only that the source of funding for future annual contributions will be determined at the Spending Review.

After leaving the European Union, the Government decided to remain part of the Horizon Europe programme to continue a high degree of scientific cooperation. Outside the EU, this means paying contributions as a ‘third country’ rather than through contributions to the EU budget as a member.

The European Scrutiny Committee is tasked with analysing new and proposed laws and policies coming from the EU for the impact that they will have on the UK. The Committee continues to monitor the situation.

More analysis from the Committee

The Committee regularly compiles and publishes reports covering proposed EU legislation across all legal and policy areas– usually on a Tuesday at 11.00. Also included in this week’s report:

  • Northern Ireland: The Committee welcomes the progress made between the EU Commission and the UK Government in over funding PEACE PLUS supporting cooperation across the Irish border and that wider difficulties in the relationship has not affected it.

Further information

Image: CCO