Britain said it would extend until the end of June the financial guarantee it has provided to ensure UK applicants to the Horizon Europe scientific research programme receive funding while negotiations continue on rejoining the scheme.
Under a Brexit trade agreement signed at the end of 2020, Britain negotiated access to a range of EU science and innovation programmes, including Horizon, the EU’s largest funding programme for researchers with an overall budget of 95.5 billion euros ($101.7 billion).
But the EU blocked Britain’s participation because of a row over post-Brexit trade rules governing Northern Ireland.
An agreement to resolve that dispute was reached last month and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said once it is implemented, the EU can work on Britain rejoining Horizon Europe.
In a statement on Monday, the British government said it will extend until June 30 the financial guarantee it has provided “so that eligible, successful bids for calls closing on or before this date continue to be guaranteed funding”.
The government said it had so far issued grants worth more than 882 million pounds ($1 billion) since launching the scheme in November 2021.
The Financial Times said last week that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak questioned the value of rejoining Horizon and the cost of British participation.
Science minister George Freeman on Monday said Horizon was hugely valuable to UK science and research, but there is not yet agreement on how much would need to be paid to rejoin.
“If you’ve been out of the club, not by your own volition for two years, the monies that you would have paid in for full membership over the whole seven years clearly aren’t due and so we need to sit down and come up with a sensible package,” he told BBC Radio.
Freeman said Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron would discuss Horizon when they meet later this week.
The announcement on the funding extension coincided with the launch of a government plan to boost Britain’s science and technology sector, including 370 million pounds for technologies such as supercomputing and AI.
The figure includes 50 million pounds for labs to help research institutes and universities improve their facilities and equipment, it said.
($1 = 0.9391 euros)
($1 = 0.8313 pounds)
Inside Telecom provides you with an extensive list of content covering all aspects of the Tech industry. Keep an eye on our News section to stay informed and updated with our daily articles.