House of Lords Committee on Erasmus and Horizon programmes

Report on the implications of Brexit for UK participation in the EU’s flagship programmes Erasmus and Horizon

The UK should seek full participation in Erasmus and Horizon programmes as an associated third country – that is among the conclusions reached by the House of Lords EU Committee.

The UK has received substantial amounts of funding and other less tangible benefits built on decades of cooperation with European partners. ‘We urge the Government to confirm whether it will seek full association to the 2021–2027 Erasmus and Horizon Europe programmes as soon as possible, to maximise certainty and stability for UK students and researchers, and to enable them to plan for any changes’, the report says.

The House of Lords EU Committee Report ‘Brexit: the Erasmus and Horizon programmes’ follows its inquiry into the short and longer-term implications of Brexit for UK participation, assessing the options for UK policy. The inquiry took evidence from stakeholders, including the East of England European Partnership, looking at how changes would affect students, researchers and universities.

In the case of a ‘no deal’ scenario, the Lords Report highlights the urgent need for clarity on how the UK Government’s underwrite guarantee of funding would work in practice, and expresses particular concern that the UK would lose access to crucial parts of the Horizon 2020 programme, in particular European Research Council grants and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions for which third countries are not eligible. If necessary, the UK should establish replacement schemes as quickly as possible.

Whether the UK leaves under a Withdrawal Agreement or with ‘no deal’ the UK can still seek to participate in the successor programmes Erasmus and Horizon Europe (2021-2027). The Lords ‘strongly believe’ that the UK should participate fully as an associate country and that this is a 'worthwhile investment'. 

The Report refers to evidence submitted to the inquiry by the East of England European Partnership, including the positive impact and growing popularity of Erasmus + and the wider benefits it brings to employability and fostering entrepreneurship, as well as the drawbacks of replacement programmes where full association is lost. The witnesses to the inquiry were unanimous in calling for full association to the future programmes, and the report highlights the East of England’s concern about the already disruptive impact of uncertainty on projects that take a long time to plan and deliver.

If full associations to the future programmes are not negotiated, then the Lords conclude that replacement UK programmes with comparative levels of investment will be essential. It calls this a ‘formidable challenge’ that could take many years to match the ‘strength and productivity of the research collaborations built through the EU’s research programmes, and the prestigious reputation of funding instruments’.




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