sThe UK Leave Vote and Horizon 2020
By Ingemar Pongratz
The outcome of the UK Referendum came as a surprise and shock to most European stakeholder. The UK public was asked to vote whether or not the UK should remain or leave the European Union and the outcome was that the UK will leave the EU.
This unexpected outcome has resulted in massive uncertainty for the future, in all societal sectors. In addition, it seems that that the UK economy is starting to feel the negative aspects of the decision to leave the EU. In fact recent articles by leading UK newspapers report of reduced confidence for the UK economy. This has manifested itself in the currency market where the British Pound is losing much of its value. Other effects include the risk of many companies, specially in the financial sector, may leave the UK and resettle with the EU.
The UK “Brexit” vote has also caused substantial concern among academic and research stakeholders. The uncertainty regarding the future relationship between the UK and EU heavily affects this sector as well and has considerable impact on Horizon 2020 and Horizon 2020 projects and proposals.
The new UK Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May has declared that the UK will not activate article 50 until late 2016. By invoking article 50, a EU Member State declares its intention to leave the EU. According to the EU treaties, negotiations between the EU and UK will start at that time and need to be finished within a period of 24 months. If the negotiations do not finish in time, it is possible to grant an extension, but all EU member states have to agree to the extension.
There are many possible outcomes of the negotiations, which range from a wide spectrum of scenarios. The extreme positions are either a close association treaty between the EU and the UK where the UK has access to the internal EU market and vice-versa. This is associated with a price tag calculated based on the UK GDP.
The second extreme position is that no agreement is reached. In this case the default is that UK is regarded as WTO member and WTO rules apply. UK goods would experience import tariffs which can be high, specially in the food sector. Free movement of the EU and UK workforce is restricted, etc etc.
The effects on Horizon 2020 are also coupled to the negotiations. The UK could negotiate access to Horizon 2020 as an Associated Country and follow the example from Norway. Norway pays the EU to participates in all areas of Horizon 2020. This is associated with a cost based on GDP. Alternatively, the UK will become a Third country with limited access to Horizon 2020 and other EU research funds. However, the UK prime minister Theresa May has stated that the UK will maintain close ties with the EU.
This uncertainty will linger on for a long time. However, until the negotiations are ready and a new agreement has been reached the UK remains a member of Horizon 2020. But what occurs after that is not clear,
Ingemar Pongratz is founder of Fenix Scientific AB / Pongratz Consulting. We support Universities, Industrial companies and other organization to prepare proposal for different public funding schemes including Horizon 2020.
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