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Statement on the Association of the UK to Horizon Europe

In December 2020, the EU knowledge community collectively welcomed the provision in Protocol I of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement for the UK to associate to Horizon Europe. Now, at the end of the first year of Horizon Europe’s implementation, the procedure to officialise the association is in a deadlock.

On 4 November 2021, Science Europe and 24 other organisations sent a letter to President von der Leyen, and Commissioner Gabriel calling for a rapid full association of the UK to Horizon Europe.

Research collaboration with our geographically closest and strongest partners is essential to strengthen Horizon Europe. The statement recalls the long history of close and trusted collaboration and shared success with the UK. It also highlights the difficulties created by the current situation.

Following the publication of Protocol I in 2020, a Q&A document from the European Commission provided reassurance that UK entities could apply with EU partners for the first multi-beneficiary calls.
Based on the Protocol and those reassurances, for the past ten months, universities, businesses and research institutions have been working with UK partners with a common perspective and in good faith that the UK would soon be a full associate member.

However, the absence of a clear timeline for finalising the UK association is now causing concern. This lingering uncertainty is rapidly approaching a crunch point with the first Horizon Europe grant agreements approaching and new calls soon to be launched. Moreover, it risks endangering current and future plans for collaboration in the research community.

The signatories urged the European Commission and UK Government to work towards a successful UK association to Horizon Europe without further delay to safeguard this valuable and mutually beneficial R&I cooperation. The full text of the statement is available on our website.

In reaction to the delay of UK association, the UK Government has announced a guarantee on 29 November. All details can be found on the UKRO factsheet (under the section ‘In case of a delay…’). It is important to stress that the UK is currently still considered a ‘to be associated’ country by the European Commission.The guarantee is just being put in place as a safety net at this point.

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