The EU’s Horizon programme is a €100 billion science and engineering research funding mechanism that takes funding from member states and distributes it to researchers on merit. It funds work in thousands of areas from pandemic preparedness and response to quantum photonic integrated circuit technologies, cancer screening and CO2-neutral steel production with green hydrogen. As a member with a strong science sector the UK used to receive about £500 million more per year than the £1.5 billion it put in. Then Brexit happened and Britain left Horizon even though the EU didn’t force it to. Objections from the science community have been loud ever since and a plan is on the table for the UK to rejoin the programme at a bilateral meeting between Rishi Sunak and the EU’s Ursula von der Leyen at next week’s Nato summit in Lithuania. It’s the product of months of talks that restarted after Europe’s new odd couple signed the Windsor Framework to smooth out the Northern Ireland Protocol in March. At issue, principally, was money. Politico says the UK spent time pressing for a discount on the peculiar ground that its science sector had suffered as a result of its exclusion from… Horizon. But terms have reportedly been agreed, and senior scientists tell the BBC if Sunak doesn’t sign their anger will be “unimaginable”. They wouldn’t be the only ones. Seven years after the EU referendum, 70 per cent of Britons think the government is handling Brexit badly compared with 19 per cent who think it’s going well.
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