Horizon Europe fallout ‘will be felt for decades’, von der Leyen warned

Campaigners have warned European Commission head, Ursula von der Leyen, that barring the UK and Switzerland from the EU research programme could undermine the response to climate change and pandemic preparedness

Stick to Science has warned the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, that the fallout from the current political impasse over Horizon Europe will be felt for generations.

In an open letter, the group campaigning to hold together the European Union’s flagship research and innovation programme, insist that:

“Political relationships can heal, but the impact of fragmenting research now will continue to be felt in the decades to come.

“From climate change to preparing and preventing future pandemics, collaboration stacks the odds in our favour for finding solutions that benefit us all.”

The EU is yet to agree terms with the UK and Switzerland over continued membership of Horizon Europe, the €95.5 billion (£80.5bn) programme funding research and facilitating vital intracontinental partnerships.

Although the two sides agreed on UK association in the UK-EU trade deal signed in the winter of 2020, 18 months later it has yet to be ratified.

Read more: Universities fear UK at ‘precipice’ of Horizon Europe exit

“UK and Swiss association to Horizon Europe is currently tied together with broader political issues which, although of grave importance, are not linked to science,” continues Stick to Science’s letter.

“As we face the very real and pressing risk that Horizon Europe could continue without two of its most committed partners, we emphasise that research collaboration benefits us all. And, of course, our collective futures will be poorer with less collaboration on science.”

The letter is signed on behalf of the almost-six-thousand signatories to the Stick to Science campaign, collected from across the European and global scientific community, and including 11 Nobel laureates, entrepreneurs, innovators, research funding bodies, and heads of HE institutions and research institutes.

“The European research sector stands united in its agreement that researchers in the UK and Switzerland still have much to offer science in Europe,” they tell von der Leyen. “We must allow them to continue to contribute.

“We ask you to intervene urgently on this crucial issue. Securing UK and Swiss association now, notwithstanding the challenging political impasse, will further strengthen your remarkable legacy at the helm of the European Commission.”

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