Horizon Europe is the EU’s £84billion key research and innovation that the UK was set to participate in. The UK was set to contribute £15billion over a seven-year period so British scientists and institutions could access the EU’s pool of funding.
But the UK is banned from participating in the project until it resolves the Brexit disputes with the bloc, including the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The bloc made the move despite the fact that Britain’s participation was a feature of the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
On Tuesday, the European Research Council (ERC), set up by the EU, issued the first grants from the €95.5bn Horizon Europe science programme
Jonathan Amos, a BBC science reporter, said on Twitter: “A reminder that ERC grants are among the most sought after, and prestigious, grants in European research. Since the ERC’s inception, the UK has dominated, along with Germany.”
This tranche (€619m) is for “starter grants”, for “rising stars” in European science.
The UK has never previously been outside the top two, and mostly in 1st place.
To receive funding, researchers from Britain would need a deal between Horizon Europe and the UK Government before the time for signing grant contracts ends, the deadline for which is April 19.
The ERC has stated that: “Successful applicants established in a country in the process of associating to Horizon Europe will not be treated as established in an associated country if the association agreement does not apply by the time of the signature of the grant agreement.”
Mr Amos said: “We don’t know how long the impasse will last or, indeed, whether the matter of association will ever be resolved.
“For the grantees, they at least have the reassurance that the UK Government will underwrite their awards.”
The Government has previously assured grantees, saying that: “To provide reassurance, the Government has guaranteed funding for the first wave of eligible, successful applicants to Horizon Europe, but who have been unable to sign grant agreements with the EU.”
This funding would be provided through the UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).