On the morning of 7 September 2023, the European Commission, as well as the Government of the United Kingdom published their respective press releases on the UK’s participation in the EU’s the EU’s research, and innovation programme, Horizon Europe, alongside a joint statement by both parties.
The agreement states that participants from the UK are granted access to the Horizon Europe Programme on equal terms with EU countries. Alongside the grants, to which UK researchers, and other relevant actors will have access to, the country’s association will also provide them with access to mutual research infrastructures and means to further research collaborations by bringing together research communities. In addition, the agreement also expands to the UK’s access to the EU’s Copernicus Programme: the EU’s satellite and climate monitoring system. However, the UK decided to remain absent from the EU’s energy programmes Euratom and International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).
This agreement was in the making for a long time. The UK’s Full association into the EU research programme – which is achieved by today’s agreement, and will become effective on 1 January 2024 – was a goal which the scientific community – including EuChemS, and its members – was hoping to achieve for a long time. According to Royal Society of Chemistry CEO Helen Pain, these developments are “extremely welcome”. The association is a major milestone for the Stick to Science initiative as well, which was signed by EuChemS in 2022, as well as by numerous high profile researchers and Nobel Prize winners. The initiative consistently called for “putting science collaboration before politics” by swiftly associating the UK and Switzerland into Horizon. In their statement, they also welcomed UK’s association, while repeating their calls for reaching an agreement with Switzerland as well.