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Filling the void

Researchers need clarity on Horizon Europe—and the alternatives

Haven’t we been here before? Last December, Research Fortnight ran an article headed ‘Fears for R&D as Brexit talks go to the wire’. UK and EU negotiators were embroiled in a standoff over what relationship would follow the UK’s impending departure from the bloc; research was caught in the crossfire. The fallout was centred on full access to Horizon Europe, the EU’s €95.5 billion R&D programme.

The eleventh-hour deal struck days later should have put those fears to bed. But almost a year on, with the UK and EU deadlocked over trade issues with Northern Ireland, the post-Brexit relationship is once more under scrutiny, and the so-called ‘association’ of the UK to Horizon Europe remains unsigned. Once again, to the frustration of researchers on both sides of the Channel, projects are at the mercy of wider politics. And this time it’s especially damaging because UK researchers were heavily encouraged to bid, on the assumption that their participation was secure. 

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