Once the Windsor framework is implemented, EU President Ursula von der Leyen said work on the UK’s association with Horizon would start “immediately”.
The EU chief met British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the United Kingdom on February 27 to agree on a new Brexit deal in Northern Ireland. In principle, the deal will bring new trade operations between the UK, Northern Ireland and mainland Europe.
Von der Leyen said the deal was “good news for scientists and researchers in the EU and the UK”.
“Moment [the agreement] is implemented I am happy to start working immediately on the association agreement, which is a prerequisite for joining Horizon Europe,” she said during her trip to the UK.
UUK chief executive Vivienne Stern said in a statement that the organization was “relieved to hear that the Windsor Framework has been approved”.
“The removal of this political obstacle must now lead to the swift confirmation of the UK’s association with Horizon Europe, Copernicus and Euratom as set out in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement,” she said.
“The full connection with Horizon continues to be the best outcome for both the UK and our research partners across Europe and beyond. We urge all parties to start the necessary negotiations now so that the merger can take effect once the framework is implemented.”
The FT she said final negotiations would likely take six to nine months. The financial arrangements, as well as the scope and areas in which the UK will participate, are still to be clarified.
UUK led the #SticktoScience campaign – together with Swiss partners who still remain outside the EU program – calling for “open and barrier-free collaboration between European actors in research and innovation”.
Germany’s U15, The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities, Udice in France as well as the UK’s Russell Group are just some of the organizations that warned that “failure to move forward with the UK association would be bad news for research. second best result”.
Former president of the Royal Society and chief executive and director of the Francis Crick Institute, Paul Nurse, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One program that the move was “fantastic news for science”.
“We were on tenterhooks for many months,” he said. “The only thing standing in the way of association was the Northern Ireland Protocol. [UK] government policy is to associate and now they are able to do so and now the EU wants them to do so as well.
“We have been on the hook for many months”
The UK has put in place contingency plans in case the link to the program fails, which Nurse said should now “fall by the wayside”.
“The ones that were introduced were with small countries or countries very far away,” he said. “They were in no sense a substitute for a connection with Europe.”
However, Nurse noted that the Windsor Framework still needs to be implemented.
“If it doesn’t finally work out.” [UK parliament]… what should we do in this country [UK] it’s actually copying what’s being done in Europe through their various initiatives as much as we can, so when we can eventually come together, it will be easy,” he said.
“Honestly, it’s better to take a half step than none at all. We were in danger of sailing, frankly, into the cold North East Atlantic, where the only company we could have was Greenland. And I like Greenland, but this was not good for our science. What we see here are the first steps to get back to this European scientific stage. It’s really, really important to the whole UK science endeavour.’