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No deal Brexit will impact science and research

The new concern arises from the campaign group Scientists for EU. The science policy forum has reviewed the Brexit technical notes released by the U.K. government. The analysis reveals that the U.K. would no longer be eligible for three of the EU’s major funding programs. These would have a significant impact, given that the money that comes from these research areas represent around 45 percent of the total of EU science funding provided to the U.K.

The money includes the 4.6 billion euros received by British scientists since 2014 via the EU’s Horizon 2020 science program, and 1.29 billion euros received via the European Research Council. Grants have also been received from the Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions.

Loss of millions of euros in funding

Speaking with the BBC, Dr Mike Galsworthy from Scientists for EU, said that a deal Brexit “would mean losing over half a billion a year in high value grants…No deal would wreck nearly half the funding we’re eligible for, it would be absolutely devastating.”

Other areas of research which could impact on the U.K. include non-participation in the European atomic energy community (Euratom), which is the EU’s nuclear safety and research watchdog. This body regulates the transport of nuclear fuels and isotopes used in cancer treatments. Theresa May has already declared UK’s intention to leave the watchdog. The U.K. would also not be part of Framework Nine, which will develop suggestions for the EU’s future research and innovation programs which will be initiated after the conclusion of Horizon 2020. Horizon 2020 is the eighth framework programme funding research, technological development, and innovation in the European Union.

A new approach is needed

The influential Royal Society has produced a set of principles upon which the U.K. government should be negotiating on, in order to protect science. The view of the Society is that science is a collaborative and global enterprise. The recommendations are:

The U.K. government should enable scientists based in the U.K. to continue to be part of the shared European research endeavor and have the best possible access to international funds and the collaborations they support;
The government must create the lowest possible barriers to practicing scientists seeking to move across borders;
The government should provide clarity and certainty, including through regulation and governance, consistently signalling that the UK remains a great place to practice great science.

Galileo project

In a similar area, funding for the U.K.’s own satellite navigation system, designed to to rival the European Union’s Galileo project is expected to be announced by the U.K. government. This has arisen due to concerns that a no deal Brexit will lead to British scientists being unable to access data from Galileo. One of the aims of Galileo is to provide an independent high-precision positioning system so European nations do not have to rely on the Russian GLONASS, Chinese BeiDou or US GPS systems. At the moment, the Galileo constellation consists of 18 satellites.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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