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Shock to the system

The plummeting likelihood of the UK joining Horizon is hitting home

Preventing scientific collaboration is “contrary to the interests of society at large”, in the words of the ’Stick to Science’ campaign, which has been pushing for the UK’s membership of Horizon Europe. And yet, after years of uncertainty, it looks increasingly like the UK will fail to join the EU’s R&D programme, to the shame of politicians on both sides.

The UK government’s tabling of legislation that would row back on the Northern Ireland protocol, a key part of the EU Brexit deal, means its chances of gaining access to Horizon Europe have plummeted. Science minister George Freeman held last-ditch talks with his EU counterpart Mariya Gabriel at a G7 meeting in Germany this week, but with the vice-president of the European Parliament, Pedro Silva Pereira, stressing there are “real teeth” in the EU’s retaliatory measures, hopes are fading.

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