UK Government Begins Legal Process on Horizon Europe Association

Launch of formal consultations under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) to resolve Horizon Europe deadlock.

In response to ongoing delays preventing the UK from associating to Horizon Europe and other scientific research programmes, the UK government has launched formal consultations with the European Union. Formal consultation is a mechanism set out in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) to resolve disputes between the UK and EU. Under the TCA, the European Commission must respond within 10 days, and talks must be held within 30 days. The UK can then demand the creation of a three-judge international arbitration panel, which has to rule within 130 days on the complaint.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “The EU is in clear breach of our agreement, repeatedly seeking to politicise vital scientific cooperation by refusing to finalise access to these important programmes. We cannot allow this to continue. That is why the UK has now launched formal consultations and will do everything necessary to protect the scientific community.”

The Russell Group, which represents 24 leading research-intensive universities, issued a statement urging ‘all parties to find a way to unlock the huge benefits it will bring for both sides’. Chief Executive, Dr Tim Bradshaw said: “Despite the delays, securing the UK’s full association to Horizon Europe remains the best outcome for both the UK and the EU, which is why scientists and researchers on both sides of the channel have consistently called for all parties to deliver what was agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

“The Government has made clear that full participation in Horizon Europe, Euratom and Copernicus, continues to be its top priority. We hope the decision to enter formal consultations will help resolve the current impasse and unlock the enormous benefits that UK association to Horizon Europe and other key programmes will bring to both sides.”

The League of European Research Universities (LERU), a Belgium-based network of 23 leading universities, including four in the UK, backed the move, with Kurt Deketelaere, secretary general of the LERU tweeting that the network was in ‘full agreement’ with the Russell Group’s statement.

In response, the Commission has said it “takes note of the UK’s request for consultation, and will follow up on this in line with the applicable rules” as set out in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

(This report was the subject of a RESEARCHconnect Policy Newsflash.)