Treasury opts for stealth to ‘announce’ takeback of £1.6 bill EU Horizon funds
23 Feb 2023
Some £1.6 billion in funds allocated for scientific research has been taken back by the Treasury.
The cash was set aside for the UK contribution to its participation in the multibillion pounds European Union Horizon Europe and Euratom programmes.
However, while the Government is keen to retain Britain’s involvement in the key science scheme as an associate member post-Brexit, the EU has said the outcome must wait until the continued dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol is concluded.
Unusually for such a large sum, little attention was drawn to the decision by the Exchequer, which published the decision but in the most low-key fashion, opting to insert it deep within the nearly 700 page Government supply estimates for the current financial year.
The Government handling of the announcement has drawn widespread criticism from scientists, both for the lack of direct publicity and the failure to resolve the ongoing Horizon membership crisis.
President of the Royal Society Adrian Smith was scathing in his response.
“The failure of all sides to secure the UK’s association to the EU’s research programmes has now cost UK science £1.6 billion. That comes on top of the talented researchers who have left the UK in order to carry on their collaborative work. How does this sit with the Government’s stated mission to have the UK as a science superpower?” demanded Smith.
“The Treasury must now ensure that this money is reinvested in the coming years.”