As a British man living in Brussels, I thought I wouldn’t be writing this post. I am definitely shocked that the UK would take this decision.
For me it seemed that both campaigns didn’t understand the value that being part of Europe brings to the UK. A big part of that value for me was the excellent research and innovation that has been funded with EU research money.
In framework programme 7 the UK was second only to Germany in winning proposals, but so far in Horizon 2020 the UK was in the lead. I think that lead will now be lost and we might move further down the table, thats if we even remain involved in Horizon 2020.
So what happens now and in the future?
For now, nothing, the UK hasn’t yet started the negotiations through Article 50, so any projects that are already funded or will be awarded funding will still get the money.
There is no doubt that the UK science and research community will still want to access the EU research programmes now and in the future. This means buying back into the programme much as countries like Israel currently does.
But we don’t yet know what the political make up of the UK government will be. Immigration was a big factor in the decision to leave, if the new government is forced to limit EU immigration then who knows what the impact on the research programme will be?
When Switzerland limited mass migration they were suspended from Horizon 2020, the Swiss government then had to implement a national programme to replace the access to the EU. It then went on to negotiate limited access to Horizon 2020, losing the ability to coordinate programmes and access to the SME instrument. On top of all this Switzerland has no say in the development of the research programme and has to accept all funding decisions made in Brussels.
Switzerland still has to make a contribution to Horizon 2020 based on the size of its economy. If the UK were to restrict free movement it would probably restrictions similar if not worse than imposed on Switzerland, and will have to pay handsomely for the privilege.
This also doesn’t take into account the impact of uncertainty that potential UK applicants will have. With the success rate already low, why would you risk an application knowing that funding may be taken away from you or not awarded?
For now, all we can say is this is a dark day for the UK’s science and research sector. Many people will be feeling unsure about their jobs and unsure about their future. The leave campaign didn’t have a plan for the economy after a Brexit, and they definitely don’t have a plan for research.
I’ll be interested to hear your comments and thoughts below?
What next for UK research?