Researchers in the United Kingdom are facing an uncertain future, due to a political spat about the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe – Europe’s flagship research funding programme. Following Brexit, the UK was set to become an official associate within the scheme, which brings funding and leadership opportunities within European projects. This is now threatened by a political disagreement over trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.
In this episode of the Physics World Stories podcast, science communicator Andrew Glester speaks with physical scientists affected by the issue. Rachel Armstrong, an experimental architecture researcher explains why Brexit repercussions led her to relocate from the UK to KU Leuven in Belgium. Medical physicist Karen Kirkby, based at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, explains why failure to associate with Horizon Europe will damage European partnerships developed over years.
Glester also catches up with science policy researcher Graeme Reid from University College London, a former engineer who has been advising the UK government on its post-Brexit science strategy. Reid outlines the government’s recently mooted ‘Plan B’, which would involve launching an alternative national funding body. The issue, as Reid explains, is that it would take years to develop, and the UK science community is almost unanimous in its desire to remain associated with Horizon Europe.
Find out more about the political debacle around the UK’s status in Horizon Europe in this analysis article by science writer Michael Allen.