COMMONS

Post-Brexit immigration rules for scientists won’t be fast-tracked

04 May 2018

The Science and Technology Committee publishes the Government response to its report, Brexit: Science and Innovation.

The Committee’s report set out its views on the priorities for the science and innovation sector, gathered during its Brexit: Science and Innovation summit on 22nd February 2018.

Chair's comments

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

"The Government’s response shows that there is still more for it to do to get the certainty that the science and innovation sectors need ahead of Brexit, to address the immigration concerns of the science community, and to get access to future collaborative research programmes.

"The case for the UK to be involved in the successor programme to Horizon 2020 is reinforced by the audacious announcement from the Commission to substantially increase the budget for science research to €100bn. The Committee will continue to monitor these critical issues in the months ahead."

The Government has responded to the following recommendations:

Recommendation: Clarity on immigration arrangements

The Committee called for the Government to ask the Migration Advisory Committee to bring forward its review the immigration arrangements needed to support science and innovation and build these into a science and innovation agreement with the EU by October 2018. It argued that this would avoid risks to retaining and attracting the essential talent that the UK’s science and innovation sectors need.

The Government response states that “it has no plans to ask the MAC to expedite their review” as it will have “plenty of time to take account of the MAC’s advice when making any final decisions about our future immigration system, which will not be implemented until after the end of the Brexit transition period.”

Recommendation: Participation in Framework Programme 9

The Committee was concerned that the Government’s default position did not appear to be that the UK will participate in the next EU collaborative research programme (‘FP9’). It called for the Government to state clearly that it intends to secure Associated Country status for FP9, with an ‘explicitly stated assumption’ of participating fully unless there is a material unfavourable difference between the new Programme and its ‘Horizon 2020’ predecessor.

The Government’s response does not provide this explicit statement, but says that “we would like to ensure Framework Programme 9 remains open to our association”.

The importance to the UK of Associated Membership of FP9 has become more apparent in light of recent reports that the EU will be increasing investment in research and innovation by 50%, with €100 billion set aside for the flagship programmes Horizon Europe [Framework Programme 9] and Euratom.
The response also states that the Government is looking for confirmation that Associated Countries will have “a suitable degree of influence […] in line with their financial contributions”.

Recommendation: An early deal for science

The Committee called for an early deal for science and research with the EU – to be in place by October 2018 or earlier if possible.

In the response published today, the Government does not take up the Committee’s call for an early deal for science, but states that it remains committed to “establishing a far-reaching science and innovation pact with the EU, facilitating the exchange of ideas and researchers” and that it “would like to discuss possible options as soon as possible.”

Further information

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