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13 Nov 2019

LERU concerned about Brexit delay in view of Horizon Europe

In an "opinion piece", Prof. Kurt Detekelaere, President of LERU (the League of European Research Universities) has expressed his concern about the delay of Brexit holding up important decisions on the future EU Research Framework Programme Horizon Europe. In the paper recently published in "Research Europe", Mr. Detekelaere points out that Brexit is already affecting universities, in the hiring of staff, recruitment of students, participation in EU-funded research projects, departure of holding grants from the European Research Council etc. He states that the extension to 31 January 2020 granted by the EU to the UK for signing the Withdrawal Agreement is "a good thing", as it keeps all options open, while at the same time prolonging uncertainty also in academia. 

The LERU President states that as regards Horizon Europe, the draft legislation foresees a new category of research-intensive third countries that could be associated with the programme. This includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, and potentially the UK. However, there is as yet no agreement between the EU-27 on the proposed association rules, also due to the uncertainty around Brexit. Another issue in this context, as the author points out, is whether the UK  will continue to contribute to the EU budget in 2020 and potentially beyond. The Brexit delay has slowed negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-27 even more, the LERU President illustrates, thus not allowing a decision to be taken on the budget for Horizon Europe, with the danger of a delayed start for Horizon Europe and a potential funding gap between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. This also entails the problem of a delayed start of association negotiations between the EU and the UK and other countries. Mr. Detekelaere also points out that likewise, Switzerland still has to sign its new framework agreement with the EU.

To read the opinion piece in Research Europe, click here.

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