21 Jul 2022
Russell Group universities call for full association of UK to Horizon Europe
The Russell Group association of the 24 most research-intensive British universities has sent a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stating that the decision not to confirm the UK’s full association to Horizon Europe until the discussions around the Northern Ireland Protocol have been resolved is a mistake and that science and research are ‘too important to be used as part of a negotiation’. The association states that since Russell Group universities have been major players in European research programmes, the programme will become less competitive. This is illustrated by the fact that in Horizon 2020, Russell Group universities alone accounted for 21% of the grants signed from pillar 1 (ERC and MSCA). Russell Group calls on the Commission President to ensure negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol continue to take place while the UK participates in Horizon Europe.
The letter to the Commission President was sent on 19 July and published on 21 July, as the UK Government sets out its plans for an alternative Plan B alternative to Horizon Europe, which it will implement if British membership to the programme cannot be agreed. The letter confirms that the UK's association to the Horizon Europe research programme remains the best outcome for all parties, but states that the British government is right to set out proposals for an alternative.