Freeman heads for ‘last round’ of Horizon talks

The science minister said the government had ring fenced funds to launch a rival programme to Horizon Europe

The UK science minister is heading to Brussels for what he described as a “last round” of talks on continued British association with Horizon Europe, the flagship continental research programme.

George Freeman said time was “running out” after UK researchers experienced 17 months of delays.

The research scheme is worth £80.5bn. Delays and disputes have dogged the future of UK participation, and earlier this month, universities warned that UK membership stood at the “precipice”. They called on the European Commission to drop objections to British affiliation.

Announcing his ministerial visit via Twitter, Freeman said he was heading to Brussels because the UK “is still committed to Horizon Europe, Euratom Supply Agency and Copernicus”. He said £15bn was ringfenced if the EU green-lit UK membership – but warned the funding would support the launch of a new, rival “bold, global alternative to Horizon” if talks failed. He said he guaranteed all UK programme funding regardless of the outcome of the EU talks.

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

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