On 21 November, the Brexit impacts on the Horizon Europe Programme workshop.
The workshop was organised by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies on the request of the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). During the workshop, academics and representatives of the pharmaceutical sector presented their view on the impact of Brexit on research cooperation between UK and EU researchers, institutions and the Horizon Europe Programme. A specific focus was also put on pharmaceutical research. The presentations were followed by a Q&A session with the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
All speakers agreed that the UK should be able to continue to participate in the programme, which was also the opinion of the ITRE Committee, who adopted its Report on the Framework Programme earlier that day.
Key highlights of the presentations
a. Professor Dr Reinhilde Veugelers – Senior Fellow – Bruegel
Prof. Veugelers emphasised the need for the EU to defend its position at the frontier of excellence. She stated that the EU should be able to attract scientific talents to continue earning and leveraging their expertise and should also actively engage in scientific collaboration. Therefore, Horizon Europe policy instruments should not only support intra-EU collaboration but also collaboration with top talents from third countries.
b. Dr Katrien Maes – Deputy Secretary General – League of European Research Universities (LERU)
Dr Maes confirmed that all five British members of LERU wanted to stay in the league and its network and that they were therefore establishing partnerships around the world to face a post-Brexit world. She further outlined LERU's efforts to raise awareness with the UK government and European institutions on future of science and innovation as a high priority in Brexit negotiations.
c. Elizabeth Kuiper – Executive Director Public Affairs – European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA)
Mrs Kuiper demonstrated why the EU should continue to work with the UK, citing figures to explain the UK’s key role in the field of Research & Development for the pharmaceutical industry and that it was important for their success for EU-UK cooperation to continue as closely as possible. Moreover, she mentioned the supply chain issues in the healthcare sector and the impacts on researchers and scientists mobility that could result from a hard Brexit.
I. Dan Nika – MEP (S&D, RO) – Rapporteur for the Horizon Europe Report
Mr Nika explained that all political groups, unanimously, recognised the UK is a EU Member State and part of the Horizon Europe. He emphasised that now it is up to the UK government to decide if the UK will remain or leave and set out their conditions. However, he stated that he was strongly against the idea of cherry picking, which will enable the UK to choose only certain programmes it wants to be part of.
Furthermore, Mr Nika clarified that the excellence criteria of Horizon Europe have been reinforced in order to be more transparent on the conditions on which projects are awarded.
The ITRE Rapporteur justified the reduced scope of mono-beneficiaries by explaining that this measure was taken to better protect the EU financial interest and to give the possibility to the European Court of Auditors to explain, at any giving moment, why and where the funding is going.
II. Theresa Griffin and Clare Moody – MEPs (ALDE, UK)
Both, Mrs Griffin and Mrs Moody called for a second referendum during which UK citizens could give their consent or not on the Brexit deal negotiated. Mrs Moody further mentioned the importance of close cooperation of the UK with the EU in the field of research and innovation (R&I) and especially in the field of rare diseases.
III. Jonathan Bullock – MEP (EFDD, UK) and Igor Grazin (ALDE, EE)
Mr Bullock and Mr Grazin welcomed Brexit and highlighted UK's ability to remain a world leader in the field of R&I outside the EU. They however both stated their support for further collaboration between the UK, the EU and the rest of the world. Mr Bullock also said that a second Brexit referendum would be a negation of the first referendum held in May 2016.
The adopted ITRE Report will now be put the vote in the Parliament’s Plenary. If adopted, it will serve as a basis for negotiation with the Council to reach an agreement on the future R&I programme.
On 7 June, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation establishing the ninth Framework Programme for (FP9), called “Horizon Europe”, which covers the period from 2021 to 2017. This Framework Programme is the Union’s flagship programme to support R&I from concept to market uptake. It aims to complement national and regional funding, to strengthen science and technology, to foster industrial competitiveness, and to implement sustainable development goals in the EU. Horizon Europe will introduce new features such as the European Innovation Council, missions to promote research results, and new forms of partnerships.