Changes to EU plans could deter UK government by making it net contributor to Horizon Europe, UUKi director warns

Changes to the European Union’s plans for payments by associated countries into Horizon Europe could mean a multibillion net contribution for the UK, raising a “real risk” that the Westminster government “will walk away” from the research programme, the Universities UK International (UUKi) director has warned.

The fears surround changes to the proposed means of deciding contributions made by non-member states wanting to join Horizon Europe, the seven-year EU research programme starting in January 2021.

The positions of the UK government and the EU are “really far apart” on association payments, giving rise to a “real risk the UK will walk away”, said Vivienne Stern, the UUKi director. The size of the net contribution could be a “deal-breaker”, she warned.

Dame Nancy Rothwell, the University of Manchester vice-chancellor, said last week that she thought it unlikely the UK would gain full association to Horizon Europe because the “costs will be hard to justify” for the UK government against the likely returns in funding.

Read more : John Morgan : Times Higher Education : 21 July 2020