Uncertainty over future UK participation in Erasmus and Horizon programmes

12 February 2019

The EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee publishes its report 'Brexit: the Erasmus and Horizon programmes', highlighting the impact Brexit will have on UK participation in the EU’s international exchange and research and innovation programmes.


The Committee's inquiry explored the implications of Brexit for UK participation in the EU's flagship programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, and its international mobility programme, Erasmus+, which provides opportunities for young people and teaching staff to study, work, and train abroad.

This report examines the impact a 'no deal' Brexit scenario would have on the Government's stated aim of continuing to participate in Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 until the end of 2020. It also considers future UK policy for research and international mobility, concluding that the UK should seek to preserve its close partnership with the EU in these areas by seeking full association to future Erasmus and Horizon programmes.

Key findings

Key findings in the report include:

  • The UK is a respected and important partner in both the Erasmus and Horizon programmes. It is a popular destination for mobility placements and a world leader in research with an exceptionally strong science base. In return, the UK receives substantial amounts of funding, access to professional networks, and opportunities to connect and collaborate with European partners built over decades of cooperation.
  • The Withdrawal Agreement would ensure that UK participation in Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 could continue largely unchanged but only until the end of the current Multiannual Financial Framework period, at the end of 2020.
  • In a 'no deal' scenario, the Government has committed to underwrite funding from Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 until the end of 2020. However, there is an urgent need for greater clarity on how this guarantee would work in practice, including who will disburse the funding and what terms and conditions will apply.
  • Of particular concern to the UK's research community in a 'no deal' scenario is the loss of access to major Horizon 2020 funding streams, including the European Research Council and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, which are not open to third country participation and so are not covered by the underwrite guarantee. The Government should confirm how it intends to replace this funding as soon as possible.
  • Whether the UK leaves the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement or in a 'no deal' scenario, it could still seek to participate in the next phase of the Erasmus and Horizon programmes, which will run from 2021 to 2027. It is in the UK and the EU's mutual interest to preserve current close levels of cooperation on research and innovation and educational mobility, and the UK should seek full participation in the Erasmus and Horizon Europe programmes as an 'associated third country'.
  • If the Government is not willing or able to secure association to the forthcoming Erasmus and Horizon programmes, alternative UK funding schemes would be needed. However, it would be a formidable challenge to try to replicate at a national level the substantial benefits of the EU's programmes for research and innovation and international mobility.

Further information

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