Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething has welcomed the news the UK will have continued access to Horizon Europe, the EU’s flagship €100 billion research and innovation programme.
The announcement by the UK Government today that the UK will become an associate country member of the programme, a move the Welsh Government had pressed for during Brexit negotiations, means Welsh scientists, universities and businesses will have continued access to the programme.
The move means organisations will be able to continue bidding for funding under the programme in the same way as EU member states.
Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe’s predecessor, has provided a platform for Welsh researchers and businesses to take part in projects worth over €2.5 billion, involving 81 countries and bringing grants worth €153 million to Wales to date.
Throughout EU-UK Brexit negotiations, the Welsh Government made clear that the UK Government should negotiate full access to Horizon Europe.
Running until 2027 with a budget of around €100 billion, Horizon Europe is the largest ever transnational programme supporting research and innovation, underpinning Europe’s ambitions as a world leader.
The programme, run by the European Commission, supports vital and pioneering research, and provides a major opportunity for Wales to remain an active and influential partner internationally, increasing the nation’s attractiveness to talent, and the effectiveness of its research.
The Welsh Government encourages Wales-based researchers and innovators to develop applications, and for organisations around Europe to take advantage of the UK’s Associate Country status in order to work with Wales’ leading scientists, businesses, public sector and civil society.
The Welsh Regional Investment Framework highlighted the need to deliver a step change in cross-border and international working, empowered by regional investment.
While the UK Government has denied the Welsh Government any access to replacement EU funds and left Wales £1.1 billion short through its Shared Prosperity Fund, the Welsh Government continues to support international and cross-border working through its Agile Cymru programme.
Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething, said:
Today’s announcement has been a long time coming. Continued participation in EU programmes was a clear message in the Welsh Government’s priorities for the future UK/EU relationship, and we have consistently pressed for this outcome. The delay in confirming associate membership for the UK has caused unnecessary alarm in the sector, which could and should have been avoided.
“Our continued participation in the Horizon programme will give Welsh universities and businesses the opportunity to join with their peers around the world to push the boundaries of science and tackle the biggest challenges faced in Wales and globally, such as Climate Change and recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.”
Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales, Professor Jas Pal Badyal FRS said:
This flagship EU programme offers an important platform to demonstrate Wales’ position as an outward-looking scientific nation which is committed to the highest level of research and innovation, working in close collaboration with partners across Europe and the rest of the world.
“Following today’s welcome news, I strongly encourage organisations in Wales to renew their relationships with their international networks with a view to bidding into Horizon Europe. Our European partners can be reassured by the eligibility of UK partners and coordinators.
“Wales has unique expertise in many domains of research and innovation and there is much to be gained by working together on shared challenges.”