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Damage from Horizon Europe uncertainty is now impossible to ignore

“I wouldn’t want to bet on the future of research in the UK.” This is the depressing verdict of a London-based early career researcher who has just won a prestigious European Union grants and is now considering moving abroad, due to doubt over the UK’s association to Horizon Europe. It illustrates why securing participation in the EU’s flagship R&D programme is the most pressing issue in UK research policy. 

After years of uncertainty around the impact of Brexit on UK-EU research links, no one wanted to be going into 2022 with such a gulf between reality and the government’s ambition to create a “science superpower that attracts international collaboration and global talent”, as science minister George Freeman put it in a recent comment piece for Research Fortnight. With the prospect of Horizon Europe participation still deeply uncertain amid tensions over Northern Ireland trade, researchers are having to take matters into their own hands—with potentially destructive results for the UK’s research ambitions.

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