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Possible extension to Horizon access for UK universities

Image: European Union, 2019

EU agrees in principle to delay Brexit again as hopes of deal rise

UPDATED 25/10—On 25 October, a European Commission spokesperson told the media that European Union member states “have agreed to the principle of an extension” to the Brexit timeframe. This story has been updated to reflect that.

Universities in the United Kingdom look set to retain full access to the EU’s Horizon 2020 R&D programme for the near future, after prime minister Boris Johnson asked for an extension of the country’s membership of the union.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, signalled in a speech on 22 October that this would be forthcoming, saying: “a no-deal Brexit will never be our decision”. Then on 25 October, after a meeting of ambassadors to the EU, Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told the media that, “the EU 27 have agreed to the principle of an extension and work will now continue in the coming days”.

The extension to EU membership—which would also give UK students and academics ongoing access to the Erasmus+ education mobility programme—might not be needed if the UK and EU parliaments ratify a new deal on the UK’s departure agreed in principle by negotiators from the two sides on 17 October.

But this seems unlikely now that progress on the deal through the UK parliament stalled.

Much of the current deal is unchanged from the one agreed by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May, and which the UK parliament rejected three times.

With regard to research, the new political declaration on the future relationship again states that the EU and UK “will establish general principles, terms and conditions for the UK’s participation in Union programmes…in areas such as science and innovation”.

This article also appeared in Research Europe