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.

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 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 would 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 a bargaining chip for leverage in other post-Brexit politics and as a result this association is delayed. The current state of play is summarised in a presentation and slides on our Events page.

As the intention is still to associate, UK applicants are deemed to be eligible for all Horizon Europe calls even when a funding deadline precedes the signing of the association agreement. If an award is made before official Association, the UKRI Guarantee Fund will cover the budget of UK applicants. Originally launched in November 2021, the UK government announced on 19th December an extension of the financial support provided to successful UK Horizon Europe applicants. The Guarantee will now be in place to cover all Horizon Europe calls that close by the end of March 2023.

The guarantee will be in place to cover all Horizon Europe calls that close on or before 31 March 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 government continues to push for Association to EU programmes, but time is running out. The government’s priority is to support the UK’s research and development sector during the ongoing period of uncertainty, and to ensure strong international collaboration opportunities for UK research.

The UK Government has also announced in July 2022 that, in the event of any formal non-association, Plan B will cover all pending (in-flight) applications which are not being evaluated by the EC. It was also stated that, for Collaborative (consortium-based) bids where participation of third countries is allowed, the government will fund all eligible UK entities participating in any such consortia signing grant agreements before 31 March 2025.

It is understood at this stage that the UKRI Guarantee Fund should, if needed, be further extended beyond March 2023 to ensure that all successful awards are funded until formal Association.

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 6 January 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.

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 a Guarantee fund, managed by UKRI, to cover costs of UK partners’ participation.

What calls are listed in the Guarantee Fund list?

The UKRI Guarantee, extended on 19 December 2022, now covers all Horizon Europe calls that close on or before 31 March 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 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 before I can access the UKRI guarantee?

No. The EC evaluation is absolute.

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

For collaborative projects you will have to contribute to the overall ‘scientific’ reporting submitted to the EC via the coordinator. All financial reporting will be done via UKRI, this will be done quarterly in arrears and will be subject to a monitoring report being approved for that period.

What considerations are there for Collaborative application?

If 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/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’

While the UK’s priority remains Association to Horizon Europe, the UK Government released a policy paper on 20th July for the proposed Plan B approach. This includes a series of transitional, short-term measures and longer-term replacement schemes in case of formal non-Association.

Transitional Measures

  • The UKRI Horizon Europe Guarantee – If we are unable to associate, Govt will fund applications submitted to funding calls with an EU final call deadline date before the point of non-association which are successful in the EU evaluation and meet the eligibility criteria of the guarantee. This would pick up where the current guarantee has left off, so there is no gap, and no eligible successful applications would go unfunded.
  • Funding for successful, in-flight applications – We will support UK entities with eligible in-flight applications to Horizon Europe (to calls that have closed or are open at the point of non-association, where such applications are not being evaluated by the EC), by assessing such applications domestically, to ensure the best get funded should the EC no longer carry out the evaluation.
  • Uplifts to innovation support and existing talent programmes – this will broaden the scopes of existing mechanisms for SME funding and broaden the scope of national-level Fellowship schemes.
  • Talent and Research Stabilisation Fund – this may take the form of a block grant to retain researchers or consolidate key EU projects.
  • Third Country Participation – Around two-thirds of Horizon Europe calls are open to UK researchers and companies as Third Country applicants, as part of consortia with at least 3 other applicants from EU member states or associated countries, provided they bring their own funding. As this is a priority for businesses and researchers, the government will fund all eligible UK entities participating in any such consortia signing grant agreements before 31 March 2025.The government will consider our approach to funding for Third Country Participation beyond this date and make an announcement by October 2024.

Plan B replacement schemes

  • 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 and UK access to Horizon Europe calls where a Third Country 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).

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 to replace Erasmus +

The UK will no longer participate in the next 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: