Horizon Europe – reactions and implications to the UK

Whilst Horizon Europe has received a positive response in some quarters, several interest groups across Europe are not happy.  MEPs have already voiced concern that the programme is not big enough for Europe to address global challenges.

The European Parliament has undertaken to fight for a significantly larger budget of between €120bn or €160bn.  European Universities indicate that the overall budget is adequate. The universities are however concerned by the allocation between the pillars; expressing concern that areas of strength are not being supported.  While the Health budget is raised the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations think that the € 300 million increase on the Horizon 2020 budget of €7.4 billion for health research is “paltry”.  European companies indicate that the budget is a move in the right direction, but insufficient for member states to reach the goal of spending 3% of GDP on R&D.

From 2021 non-EU third parties who have a free trade agreement with the EU and a specific programme agreement can participate in Horizon Europe on a “pay as you go basis”, but will not be able to get out more than they put in.  In the context of Brexit this has clear implication for the UK, currently a net beneficiary.  Post-Brexit, presuming the UK has a free trade deal and has signed up to the programme, something many in industry and academia are pressing for, then we are welcome in the programme, but will see a significant drop in R&D support from the EU.  Europe has clearly left the door open for UK participation and there is a clear sense that involvement is welcome, however there will be no “special relationship”.