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Pact on research will be key part of UK-EU accord

25 April 2018

From Professor Paul Boyle and others

With the headline terms of the future UK-EU relationship to be agreed by October 2018, it is vitally important that future research and education co-operation is prioritised in the final agreement (“Davis urges May to publish detailed plan for EU ties ahead of Brussels”, April 19).

The EU and the UK benefit immensely from collaboration in this area, as acknowledged by Michel Barnier and Theresa May. Both sides want co-operation.

Yet timing is critical. While the phase one Brexit deal agreed last year was good news — the UK will continue to participate in the EU’s research framework and Erasmus+ exchange programme until 2020 — we cannot be complacent. The EU proposals for the successor research and education programmes are being considered now, and the new programmes will begin the day after the transition period ends (1 January 2021). Any delay to the final EU-UK Brexit deal would see the programmes start, but with the UK excluded from the initial wave of research and education partnerships. This would be mutually damaging.

The ultimate aim should be to secure UK participation, as a full associate country, in the successor to the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 and to Erasmus+. Early, fruitful negotiation on research and education, as part of the wider negotiations, would provide reassurance that a deep and constructive relationship between the EU and UK is feasible in all areas.

This would be a win-win for all Europeans.

Professor Paul Boyle
Vice-chancellor, University of Leicester and vice-president, European University Association, Leicester, UK

Professor Martine Rahier
Vice-president, European University Association, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Professor Sir Steve Smith
Vice-chancellor, University of Exeter and Chair of Universities UK International Policy Network, Exeter, UK

Professor Rolf Tarrach
President, European University Association, Brussels, Belgium

This article was first published in Financial Times on 24 April 2018.

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