Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The UK is prepared to snub Horizon Europe, the EU’s scientific research initiative if the two sides fail to resolve the stalemate over the NI Protocol.
UK Secretary of State for Science, Innovation, and Technology Michelle Donelan noted that the UK is “more than ready to go it alone” if the dispute is not resolved, according to The Guardian reported on Sunday.
The European Commission has been blocking UK’s request to join the initiative over the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute, prompting London to prepare for cooperation with other partners.
“If we cannot associate, we are more than ready to go it alone with our own global-facing alternative, working with science powerhouses like the US, Switzerland, and Japan to deliver international science collaborations,” Donelan stressed.
“I will not sit idly by while our researchers are sidelined,” she noted and added, “the time for waiting is quickly coming to an end and I will not shy away from striking out alone.”
Last week, the EU and the UK reaffirmed their commitment to finding a solution to the NI Protocol dispute.
Money at stake
Senior researchers in the UK stressed the importance of joining Horizons Europe, noting that their research grants are in jeopardy.
James Wilsdon, a research policy professor at the University College London, stated “[Donelan] needs to temper her ‘plan B’ hubris with a dose of realism” and stressed, “you can’t simply swap out one set of collaborative relationships, built up over decades, for new and different ones elsewhere.”
Dame Anne Johnson, head of the Academy of Medical Sciences, expressed the belief that “the scientific community strongly believes that association to the Horizon Europe funding program is best for research in the UK and in Europe.”
“We urge the new secretary of state to seize the opportunity to secure this outcome,” she stated and added that it would “send a strong message that the UK is open for business and remains a premier destination to work on health research that improves lives.”
Sir Paul Nurse, head of the Francis Crick Institute, welcomed Donelan’s ambition to make the UK a “science superpower” and added that she should “deliver government policy to safeguard our longstanding and valuable research relationships with the rest of Europe through association with Horizon Europe.”