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Committee calls for early deal for science and research

21 March 2018

The Science and Technology Committee publishes its report on Brexit, science and innovation. The report sets out the Committee's views on the priorities for the science and innovation sector in future negotiations with the EU, ahead of the European Council Summit this week.

The evidence included within the report was gathered during the Committee's Brexit: Science and Innovation summit on 22 February 2018.

Recommendation: An early deal for science

The Committee calls for an early deal for science and research with the EU – to be in place by October 2018 or earlier if possible. The report argues that negotiating a deal on science is a ‘win-win’ for the UK and the EU, and so getting an early agreement could set a positive tone for other elements of the negotiations.

However, if there were to be a protracted delay in agreeing this, it would have unfortunate effects, and it cannot be taken for granted that the UK will retain its leadership position in science and innovation. The Committee concludes that reaching an agreement on this should now be as important to the Government as addressing the question of security.

Recommendation: Participation in Framework Programme 9

The Committee is concerned that the Government’s default position does not appear to be that the UK will participate in Framework Programme 9 (FP9) – the EU’s next flagship research funding programme.

The Committee recognises that if the price of taking part is too high, or the focus on excellence is diluted, then a change in approach might be warranted, but calls on the Government to state clearly that it intends to secure Associated Country status for FP9.

Recommendation: Clarity for EU students from 2019

The Committee has also called on the Government to clarify the status of students applying to study in the UK in 2019, given that many universities will soon be distributing information about the 2019 academic year.

Chair's comments

Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:

"The UK's science and innovation sector is in a strong position as the UK enters the Brexit negotiations. The UK is home to four of the world's top ten universities and the Government has committed to raising funding by £4.7 billion by 2021. But we can’t take it for granted that we will retain this world-leading position. A concerning lack of clarity remains over access to funding, association with regulatory bodies, and immigration policies.

Cooperation on science and innovation is a ‘win-win’ for the UK and the EU. An early deal would provide assurances to researchers, students and academics, and could set a positive tone for future negotiations. It is crucial that the Government acts swiftly. If it fails to do so both sides could suffer considerably as a result."

Further information

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