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Lords call on Government to end ongoing uncertainty over future participation in Erasmus and Horizon programmes


In its new report the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee has called on the Government to clarify its plans for future UK access to the EU's international mobility and research programmes, ‘Erasmus ' and ‘Horizon 2020', and successor arrangements which are due to start in 2021.

The UK is a respected and important partner in both the Erasmus and Horizon 2020 programmes. It is a popular destination for mobility placements and a world leader in research, with an exceptionally strong science base.

The Committee found that participation in these programmes provides clear benefits to the UK beyond simply grant funding, including access to networks, connections, and opportunities to collaborate with European partners built over decades of close cooperation. It would be a formidable challenge to try to replicate these benefits at a national level.

As an EU Member State, the UK has access now to all Erasmus and Horizon 2020 funding programmes. The Withdrawal Agreement would maintain this access, and UK participation in Erasmus and Horizon 2020 would continue largely unchanged until both programmes finish at the end of 2020.

In a ‘no deal' scenario, the Government has said it would underwrite funding to preserve the UK's access to these programmes until the end of 2020. However, there is an urgent need for greater clarity on how this guarantee would work in practice. The Government must also explain how it would replace major research funding schemes not covered by the guarantee: the European Research Council grants and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, which account for about 44% of total UK receipts from Horizon 2020.

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 EU's international mobility and research programmes: Erasmus and Horizon Europe, which will run from 2021 to 2027.

The Committee concludes that 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 that the UK should seek full participation in the Erasmus and Horizon Europe programmes as an ‘associated third country'.

The Committee urges the Government to confirm whether it will seek full association to the 2021–2027 Erasmus and Horizon Europe programmes as soon as possible, to maximise certainty and stability for UK students and researchers, and to enable them to plan for any changes.

Lord Jay of Ewelme, Chair of the Committee, said:

“The future availability of EU funds for international mobility and research remains unclear. We need to know how, in a ‘no deal' scenario, the Government's guarantee to underwrite funding from the Erasmus and Horizon 2020 programmes would work in practice. The Government must also explain how it would replace major Horizon 2020 funding schemes not covered by its guarantee, including the European Research Council grants and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.

“The UK-EU relationship in the areas of research and innovation and educational mobility must be preserved. The UK is a popular destination for exchange placements and a world leader in research, with an exceptionally strong science base. We also benefit significantly from participating in the Erasmus and Horizon programmes in terms of grant funding, access to international networks, joint infrastructure, and opportunities to connect and collaborate with European partners built over decades of close cooperation.

“Full association to the forthcoming Erasmus and Horizon programmes is by far the best outcome for UK students and researchers.”

Embargoed copies of the report are available to the media from the House of Lords Press Office. To request a report, or an interview with Lord Jay of Ewelme, please contact Anouska Russell on 02072198535 or russellaf@parliament.uk.

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