The UK government is set to hold talks with the European Union regarding the country’s associate membership of the bloc’s Horizon Europe research programme, funded by an impressive €100 billion (£88.6 billion). Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan is travelling to Brussels for an introductory meeting with EU research and innovation commissioner Mariya Gabriel.
Influential figures are hoping that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s new deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol may lead to successful negotiations for the UK’s access to the programme. Whilst Donelan acknowledges the potential of the Horizon Europe research scheme, she insists that the UK will only join under “the right terms”.
The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology is currently working on plans for a UK alternative in the event negotiations with the EU fall through – details of which will be released in the coming days.
Speaking ahead of the Brussels meeting, Donelan stated her desire to see “our world-class scientists have the very best platform on which to continue their work”. The Brexit trade deal foresaw the UK’s association agreement with Horizon Europe, which was stalled due to troubles with trading arrangements in Northern Ireland. However, recent developments made by the EU commission helped to bring negotiations back on track.
Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak is continuing to strive for his goal to make the UK a “superpower” for science and technology – with developments such as this providing a foundation to his ambitions.
Michelle Donelan is currently a Conservative MP for Chippenham in the UK and is the Minister of State for Universities, founded in the newly formed science, research, and innovation portfolio. She is a strong campaigner, with an interest in promoting engagement with rural businesses, and an advocate for the importance of science and digital education in today’s world.
The European Union’s Horizon Europe research programme sets out to fund scientific research across all EU member states, as well as directed investment in initiatives aiming to boost Europe’s economic competitiveness and societal wellbeing. The programme builds on past successes of Horizon 2020 to fulfil its ambitions of a greener and more sustainable future, tackling pressing issues in healthcare, energy and more.