Russell Group calls on UK & EU to break the deadlock on Horizon Europe

20 May 2022

Russell Group Chief Executive Dr. Tim Bradshaw has written to both UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Commissioner for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight at the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič, calling on them to intervene to break the deadlock on UK association to Europe’s flagship R&D funding scheme, Horizon Europe, and unlock the enormous benefits to the UK & EU. The letters can be found below.

In addition, today (20 May 2022) Dr. Bradshaw told European university and research leaders that the UK and EU are now teetering on the brink of losing UK association to Horizon Europe, and that failure to associate would be bad news for research and innovation.

Speaking at the LERU 20th anniversary conference, Dr. Bradshaw reiterated the UK’s commitment to the Horizon programme and call on all present to make the case for UK association with their governments and officials in Brussels. In his speech, he said:

"Working with friends and colleagues from across the EU, the Russell Group pressed hard for association to Horizon Europe to be included in the Brexit deal and for the UK government to set out long-term, ring-fenced funding to support our participation. The fact that these things happened shows that all of our governments recognise the value of R&D and the importance of European partnerships for everyone involved.

"It was clear from the start that association is the preferred outcome for UK and EU research efforts, giving us the best opportunity to bring people together and build the kind of multidisciplinary, international teams that are required to help us tackle major global challenges. The UK government is right to be considering ‘Plan B’ options as a fallback and our universities are ready to work to make a success of any alternative arrangements should they be needed. However, make no mistake: failure to move forward with UK association would be bad news for research and a second best outcome for both the UK and the EU.

"We all know there is a point at which the UK can no longer hold on and alternative arrangements will need to be put in place. I can tell you today that the window for association is closing, and closing fast. Indeed, it increasingly feels as if we are right on the brink, with association to be snatched away before the summer.

"The fact that Horizon Europe seems to have become tied up in wider political debates is a matter of regret, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

"The Russell Group has been in constant dialogue with our government and there is a genuine commitment from the Science Minister and others to getting association over the line if we possibly can. I urge you all to ensure that you are also making the case with your own governments and officials within the commission before it is too late."

Letter to PM on Horizon Europe

Letter to VP Sefcovic on Horizon Europe May 2022

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