Brexit costs British scientists £ 1.5bn in EU funding
BREXIT has cost scientists £ 1.5 billion in grants from the EU’s Horizon 2020 program since the 2016 referendum, according to a new analysis from Scientists for EU on the fifth anniversary of the vote to leave the bloc.
The campaign group said UK researchers were overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit and estimates of the funding loss show their concerns “were justified” as the value of grants steadily fell until the end of the year. program last December.
The UK has been neck and neck with Germany consistently for many years when it comes to participation and total grant amounts.
“If the UK had not voted for Brexit and kept pace with Germany, it would have earned £ 1.46 billion more in grants than it did,” said they declared.
Between 2017 and 2020, the UK went from a long-standing common first place to fifth place, and in 2020 it made less money and participated in fewer projects than Germany, France, Spain and Italy – and was just ahead of the Netherlands.
Without Brexit, the group estimated that the UK would have been involved in 2,742 more projects, or around 30% than it actually did, from 2017 to 2020.
Among the reasons for the disruption was the constant threat of a possible no-deal situation, given that there was no agreement on the terms under which the UK would leave the EU until the end of 2019. , and uncertainty about the UK’s long-term future in EU research. programs.
“This made the UK a higher risk partner in consortia, and it was also riskier for UK institutions to apply, not knowing what the long-term future held in store for them,” said the group.
Horizon 2020 has finished handing out all of its grants and the new € 95 billion (£ 73 billion) Horizon Europe is taking off, raising questions as to whether and how the UK can restore its position, or if too much momentum has been lost.
The European Commission has put the UK on a list of 18 potential associate countries that it says can start applying for grants subject to condition, the group said, until final formal agreements are put in place.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s leading public funding agency, is encouraging academics and researchers to start applying for Horizon Europe grants.
However, Scientists for EU added: “Is the deal certain and stable enough that UK institutions feel confident enough to compete?
“Do the EU and the other associated countries feel as confident as before Brexit to face a British partner? ”
Mike Galsworthy, Director of Scientists for EU, said: “In the future, British science will want to quickly regain its leading role in the European science agenda.
“The uncertainty over the five-year Brexit has brought the UK’s position down several rungs and left a huge hole in our funds and our networks.
“We need a plan to rebuild better in Europe after Brexit, and it’s not something the government can ignore.”
Dame Anne Glover, president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, former EU chief science adviser and Scientists for EU supporter, said the damage caused by five years of Brexit uncertainty and antagonism has been immense for British researchers, who were so used to being able to collaborate with colleagues from across the continent.
“To stop the decline, we need to quickly engage in positive initiatives,” she said.
“The Royal Society of Edinburgh recently launched the Saltire Research Awards in collaboration with the Scottish Funding Council and the Scottish Government, with the aim of re-energizing Scotland’s research partnerships with Europe following the double blow of Brexit and Covid-19.
“This initiative is the kind of rebound and re-engagement that we need. Not just in Scotland, but everywhere.
“[Prime minister] Boris Johnson talks about the UK being a “science superpower”, but that will only be possible by acknowledging that he has a tremendous amount of recent vandalism to undo on the way back to such an international position.