Ireland urged to help finalise UK’s involvement with Horizon Europe

14 Dec 2021

Image: © ktsdesign/

The RIA said the ongoing delay is a concern for the whole research community in Ireland as it puts strategic partnerships at risk.

The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) has urged Ireland’s Government to help finalise the UK’s involvement with Horizon Europe, as it fears ongoing delays are putting research partnerships in jeopardy.

The State has been asked to use its influence with the European Commission to speed up the approval of the UK’s association with the largest ever funding instrument for research and innovation in Europe.

There have been ongoing delays in formalising the agreement, which would enable UK scientists, researchers and businesses to access funding under the EU programme on equivalent terms as organisations in EU countries.

The RIA said that the UK is an important and strategic research partner, with researchers in Ireland developing strong collaborative relationships with groups in the UK and Northern Ireland.

Horizon Europe is important for these partnerships as its funding improves access to the resources, knowledge and infrastructure of partner countries while also allowing travel grants to facilitate cross-border networking and collaboration on projects.

RIA president Dr Mary Canning said this is an issue of concern for the whole research community on the island of Ireland.

“Research and education represent an essential, highly productive and apolitical source of collaboration between Ireland, Northern Ireland, Britain and mainland Europe for the benefit of all,” she added.

Horizon Europe launched in Ireland in March and will run from 2021 to 2027, directly following the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. With a budget of €95.5bn, the overarching goals of the programme are to strengthen science and technology in the EU, boost the region’s capacity and competitiveness in innovation, and deliver research projects that serve the EU’s priorities.

The European Commission faced pressure in November when a joint statement was issued by more than 1,000 universities, 56 academies of science and 33 rectors’ associations, urging it to finalise the UK’s association to Horizon Europe or risk “endangering current and future plans for collaboration”.

The UK recently announced it would guarantee funding for the first wave of successful UK-based applicants to Horizon Europe if delays for the association agreement continue. This decision has been welcomed by the RIA.

In January 2020, a leading UK scientist expressed concerns that Brexit could cause “significant damage” to the future of science in the UK.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic