British scientists denied access to EU scheme in row over Northern Ireland protocol


ritish scientists could become “collateral damage” after being denied access to an EU research programme because of the row over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Northern Ireland’s main unionist party, the DUP, is opposed to the protocol which has created economic barriers on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the government has suggested amending it.

In response, Brussels is barring UK access to its £80 billion Horizon Europe research programme to increase pressure on ministers to compromise.

João Vale de Almeida, the EU’s ambassador to the UK, said British scientists would become “collateral damage” in the dispute with their place in the project becoming a “victim of the political impasse”.

The UK was granted membership of the scheme as part of the trade agreement it signed with the EU in 2020 .

Further pressure came from the US where the speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi accused the government of taking the Good Friday agreement peace deal “for granted”.

Following talks with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the prominent member of President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party warned the US “will not support a bilateral free trade agreement” if the UK chose to undermine the agreement.

Truss announced proposals to unilaterally revoke parts of the protocol this week, which she said was “undermining” the peace process.

Academics warned failure to allow the UK to take part in Horizon Europe is likely to damage research on both sides of the Channel.

The Russell Group, representing 24 of the UK’s most prominent universities, has said participation in Horizon is vital for achieving the government’s aim of making Britain “a science superpower”. They pointed out their member universities had won more than 1,400 European Research Council grants worth €1.8 billion, which was “more than the whole of France”.

The government has prepared an alternative plan to spend £6 billion over three years on a new global science fund, if the EU refuses to let the UK take part in Horizon.


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