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UK to re-join EU’s Horizon science programme

The UK is set to rejoin the EU’s Horizon science programme after two years of absence post-Brexit, Sky News has been told.

The final deal is set to be agreed within hours and could be announced on Thursday or at the weekend’s G20 summit by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as first reported today by Bloomberg. Sources have confirmed the report to Sky News.

The issue has been on the prime minister’s desk for weeks while he attempts to negotiate a higher sum for British scientists to ensure they catch up after the two-year absence.

There had been fears the deal between the UK and and the EU may stall over the sums involved.

Sky News understands that Mr Sunak has authorised the deal in principle and is likely to speak to Ursula Von der Leyen, the European Commission President, to finalise it within hours.

Britain benefitted more than any other EU country from grants handed out under the Horizon programme which offered funding and leadership of pan-European research groups and access to equipment and facilities.

In the two years since the UK was kicked out of Horizon, the UK government has stepped in to match EU grant money lost.

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The UK was negotiating a deal to remain in the EU’s €95.5bn Horizon Europe funding programme, but talks stalled over Brexit-related disagreements such as Northern Ireland.

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However, hope was reignited following the successful negotiations over the Windsor Framework, after Ms Von der Leyen said she looked forward to UK and EU researchers working together again.

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“The moment it’s implemented I’m happy to start immediately, right now, the work on an association agreement, which is the precondition to join Horizon Europe, so good news for all those who are working in research and science,” she said at the time.

The level of compensation owed to the UK over its absence from the scheme is still thought to be an issue.

The UK’s departure from Horizon had dismayed scientists, who felt losing scientific ties with Europe undermined the government’s stated aim to become a “science superpower” as core to economic recovery.

The CBI has previously called an association with the EU Horizon programme a “win-win”..



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