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EU research programmes

The EU’s research programmes remain accessible for UK researchers

UK researchers

On the 24th of December 2020, The European Commission reached an agreement with the United Kingdom about its future collaboration in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The agreement safeguards the EU’s integrity of the Single Market and the indivisibility of the Four Freedoms (people, goods, services and capital).

Although the UK is leaving the EU’s ecosystem of common rules, supervision and enforcement mechanisms, the agreement provides a solid basis for preserving the long-standing cooperation.

This agreement will enable tariff and quota-free trade of goods between the UK and the EU. The cooperation will continue in areas such as science, climate change, nuclear and fusion research, security and transport.

UK researchers will take part in Horizon Europe

For the past four and a half years, Brexit uncertainty has affected researchers. However, with the new agreement, the UK will be a part of the EU’s 2021 – 2027 research programme, Horizon Europe, which is worth €95.5 billion.

The terms on which the UK will participate in Horizon Europe are yet to be negotiated. Researchers based in the UK hope for the status of an associate country, similar to Norway, Switzerland, and other non-EU countries that benefit from the current Horizon 2020 scheme. This status guarantees the same rights as EU members.

Apart from Horizon Europe, the UK will continue to have a role in four other EU programmes:


  1. The Euratom nuclear research programme,

  2. The ITER project, building the world’s first functioning nuclear fusion system,

  3. The earth monitoring project, Copernicus,

  4. EU satellite surveillance and tracking services. However, the UK will lose access to Galileo encrypted military data, unless there is defence cooperation.

The end of Erasmus+

UK participation in the EU’s Erasmus+ student exchange programme will end. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, described the loss of Erasmus+ as “a sad betrayal of our youth, their opportunities and ambitions”. A replacement programme will be called ‘Turing scheme’ as announced by Johnson.

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