British scientists say they’re relieved by a government promise to guarantee them funding for existing EU research projects, even after the country leaves the European Union. But the reassurance only partly allays concerns about Brexit’s effect on UK science.
The United Kingdom receives billions of euros for research from the European Union, mostly from its €74.8-billion (US$83.6-billion) Horizon 2020 (H2020) programme. June’s referendum vote for the nation to leave the EU left British scientists worried that funding for existing multi-year projects could be yanked away. And the uncertainty led to reports of EU collaborators deciding to drop UK scientists from future grant applications — even though the United Kingdom is still a full member of the EU.
But on 13 August, the government announced that it will step in to pay UK contributions to EU H2020 projects after Brexit, provided that the projects were bid for before the day that the UK leaves the EU (a date which has not yet been fixed). “By underwriting Horizon 2020 funding in this way today, we are again demonstrating the importance we place on maintaining the world leading research that takes place in the UK,” said UK science minister, Jo Johnson.
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