Post Brexit Environment and UK Association

The UK officially left the EU on 1 January 2021, following signature of the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement (Brexit deal). This agreement sets out the terms of the future EU and UK relationship, including the terms for UK Association to Horizon Europe.

Horizon 2020 projects

Although Horizon 2020 has ended, some projects funded in its lifetime could continue up to 2025-26. It is therefore important to note that Brexit will not affect the funding of UK partners in live H2020 projects. The UK remained a Member State up to the end of 2020, thus all UK partners in live projects will receive funding as normal for the full duration of their project.

Horizon Europe – UK to become an Associated Country

The UK is no longer a Member State but it was agreed as part of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (Brexit Deal) that we will participate as an Associated Country. This means that the UK would pay into the Horizon Europe Programme and enjoy the same participation rights as a Member State.

Delay in Association & UKRI Guarantee Fund

The terms of association are already agreed in Protocol 1 to the Brexit Deal, meaning that association should have been a formality rather than a negotiation. However, Horizon Europe has become entangled in other post-Brexit politics and as a result this association is delayed. Following the ‘Windsor Framework’ announced at the end of February 2023, discussions have restarted on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe.

The current state of play is:

  • UK applicants are eligible to apply for all Horizon Europe calls, even when the application deadline precedes the signing of the association agreement
  • UK applicants should be added as a beneficiary to all applications (not as an Associated Partner)
  • UK applicants are treated as if the UK is an associated country throughout the process, from admissibility and eligibility to evaluation, up until the preparation of grant agreements
  • If a UK applicant is unable to sign the grant agreement with the EU because the UK’s association has not been formalised in time, then the UKRI Guarantee Fund will cover the budget of UK applicants. The guarantee currently covers all Horizon Europe calls with final submission deadlines on or before 30 June 2023. We expect this deadline to be extended if association talks are still ongoing.
The guarantee will be in place to cover all Horizon Europe calls that close on or before the end of June 2023. Eligible, successful applicants to Horizon Europe will receive the full value of their funding at their UK host institution for the lifetime of their grant.
The extension will ensure that eligible, successful UK applicants will continue to be guaranteed funding, supporting them to continue their important work in research and innovation.
Horizon Europe Guarantee scheme extension to support UK R&D (06 March 2023)

A summary of the situation can also be found in the presentation and slides on our Events page.

For further information on UK association and UKRI Guarantee Fund, please consult our evolving FAQs below.

FAQs - UK Association and UKRI Guarantee Fund

* as of 24 May 2023*

Is Association still likely?

Association is still the preferred option for both sides – the delay is due to other post-Brexit politics that is using Horizon Europe for leverage, so neither side has any reservations about signing the Association itself. Following the ‘Windsor Framework’ deal, the European Commission have restarted negotiations with the UK.

Should I still apply if we do not know our Association Status?

Yes! Association is only an issue at the Grant Agreement signature stage, which is around 8 to 12 months from the submission deadline. Applications made now will hopefully be awarded when the political situation is sorted.

If it still isn’t agreed, will I have to withdraw from my project?

No. The UK Government has set up the UKRI Guarantee scheme, to cover costs of UK partners’ participation.

What calls are listed in the Guarantee Fund list?

The UKRI Guarantee, extended on 06 March 2023, now covers all Horizon Europe calls with final submission deadlines on or before 30 June 2023.

I read an article that says an ERC award has to be moved to a Member or Associated country or I lose my award. Is this true?

Not entirely. The UKRI Guarantee will cover costs of ERC as with all other awards. The difference is that these Fellowships can only be held in a Member/Associated country, so they are no longer officially branded as ERC in the same way.

Can I still coordinate a proposal if the UK is not Associated?

Unfortunately not. Horizon Europe (unlike H2020) forbids coordination by a non-Member State or Associated Country. An alternative coordinator will need to be appointed, though this is for liaison with the EC. ‘Scientific’ leadership can still come from the UK partner.

Should I still think about coordinating an application for upcoming deadlines?

Yes – the hope is that, by the time your award is signed off the UK will have associated. You should, however, discuss having a back-up Coordinator within the consortium in case the situation is still ongoing.

Does the proposal need to be approved by UKRI before I can access the UKRI guarantee?

No. The EC evaluation is absolute and will not be re-evaluated by UKRI.

Will I have to report both to the EC and UKRI?

For collaborative projects you will have to contribute to the overall scientific/technical reporting submitted to the EC via the coordinator. For the UKRI Guarantee, you will be required to produce a final report of the UK partner’s contribution to the project at the end of the project. All financial reporting will be done via UKRI. This will be done quarterly in arrears.

What considerations are there for collaborative applications?

If a UK partner is coordinating, plan for a back-up lead to avoid delays if the situation is still not resolved. Make sure the consortium has partners from at least 3 Member States/Associated countries in addition to the UK so that the consortium will still be eligible without having to find new partners after the award is made.

What if my European partners ask me to leave an application?

Tell the EU Team as we keep a record of this happening to pass on as case studies to the Government (BEIS). You can also send a copy of our Partner information sheet.

Do you remember the last time you worked in an environment that wasn’t constantly clouded by uncertainty?

Barely. We vaguely remember a mythical utopia where you could apply for a call, get funding and then do the project but we may have just dreamt it.

For information about the EU Framework programme, please consult our Horizon Europe page.

UK Government ‘Plan B’ – Pioneer

While the UK’s preference continues to be association to Horizon Europe, on 6th April 2023 the UK Government released a prospectus for Pioneer – the Plan B alternative to association. This is based on, but is not a direct replica of, Horizon Europe. Should it not be needed, it will be used to refresh the UK funding landscape. The main components are:

  • Top Talent – attractive fellowships to replace lost access to ERC and MSCA PF fellowship opportunities.
  • End to End Innovation – funding for international innovation in strategic global challenges (e.g. Net Zero) with 60% total funding investing in industry.
  • Global Collaboration – a combination of top-down and bottom-up international collaboration opportunities as well as UK access to Horizon Europe calls in which  Third Country participation is eligible.
  • R&D System – measures to enable participation via investment in infrastructure, supporting sustainability in UK Universities and installing international collaboration in the UK’s top Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs – e.g. UKAEA, NPL).

An overview of the programme can be found in the presentation and slides on our Events page.

UK Participation in other EU Funding Programmes

Draft Protocol I of the Joint Declaration on Participation in Union Programmes states that the UK may also participate in:

  • Joint Research Centre (JRC) activities
  • European Partnerships in the form of Article 185 and 187 (Joint Programming)
  • The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
  • European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERICs)
  • European Research Area Committee (ERAC)
  • Euratom Research & Training (R&T) Programme 2021-2025.

Turing scheme replaces Erasmus +

The UK no longer participates in the Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027). As a replacement scheme, the UK Government has set up the new Turing scheme. This scheme is managed by the International Office and further details can be found here.

Useful Links

You may find the following resources helpful: