UK scraps £15 billion EU science deal
- UK can withdraw from Horizon Europe, Copernicus and Euratom programmes
- Access to the programs is blocked by Brussels compared to Norway
- Lord Frost partners with Kwasi Kwarteng on a UK alternative called the ‘Discovery Fund’
A leaked document shows that ministers can walk away from three major EU research programmes.
Britain could withdraw from Horizon Europe, Copernicus and Euratom, denying the EU up to £15 billion in funding.
The government is working on domestic alternatives in case Britain needs to activate Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol in the coming weeks.
Access to the programs is blocked by Brussels, compared to third countries such as Norway.
Leaked document shows ministers could walk away from three major EU research programmes
Britain could pull out of Horizon Europe, Copernicus and Euratom, denying the EU up to £15bn in funding
The leaked government document shows that ministers believe the delay is a deliberate tactic by Brussels to influence negotiations over Northern Ireland, the Telegraph reported.
The paper said departments have been advised to “prepare alternatives to each program in the event that association proves impossible with a satisfactory timeline.”
It added “program benefits cannot be fully replicated in domestic alternatives” and withdrawing “would affect its ambition to become a scientific superpower.”
Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, has reportedly partnered with Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, to create a UK alternative to Horizon Europe dubbed ‘Discovery Fund’.
This week, European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic will travel to London to continue the talks.
On Friday, he warned that activating Article 16 would have “serious consequences.”
Downing Street has repeatedly rejected the EU’s claims that the UK was about to bring Article 16 into effect, saying it preferred to settle their differences through negotiation.
Government is working on domestic alternatives in case Britain needs to activate Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol in the coming weeks
Access to the programs is blocked by Brussels, compared to non-member states such as Norway
However, the UK is willing to use the mechanism if a solution cannot be reached.
After three weeks of intense negotiations, talks have stalled, with the UK saying the EU has not made enough concessions.
Bottlenecks include discussions about reducing customs controls, red tape around medicines and the movement of pets between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
A government source said: ‘We have always said we will use Article 16 if no solutions can be found. But people need to understand that we take these talks seriously and we mean it when we say we want a negotiated outcome.’
The source said the EU’s proposals so far “don’t live up to what they say on the tin”. The number of audits and trials would still be unacceptably high, contrary to what the Commission said when it first announced them’.