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The UK is now eligible to participate in Horizon Europe and Copernicus

UK and Horizon Europe

The European Commission and the United Kingdom have reached a political agreement on the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe and Copernicus, two major EU research and innovation programmes. This agreement will allow the UK to participate on an equal footing with EU Member States and have access to funding in Horizon Europe from 1 January 2024. In addition, the UK will be associated with Copernicus, the EU’s leading Earth observation programme, and will have access to services from the EU’s Space Surveillance and Tracking programme.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed the importance of this collaboration and said that the EU and the UK are key strategic partners in global science and research.

This agreement is consistent with the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and requires the UK to contribute financially to the EU budget for its participation in these programmes, estimated at around €2.6 billion per year.

Thanks to this new paradigm, it will seek to strengthen cooperation in research, innovation, and space between the EU and the UK, allowing both sides to continue to be global leaders in science and technology. The agreement must be approved by the Council before being formally adopted in the EU-UK Specialised Committee on Participation in EU Programmes.

UK and Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the world’s largest civilian research and innovation programme, with a budget of €95.5 billion from the EU alone, together with contributions from associated countries. It supports EU Member States and associated countries in unlocking their national research and innovation potential by funding cutting-edge research projects, grants, ground-breaking innovation and researcher mobility. Horizon Europe sets ambitious goals to tackle some of today’s most important global challenges, such as health crises or the fight against climate change, while strengthening technological and industrial capacities across the EU.

The UK’s partnership with Horizon Europe will allow its researchers and organisations to participate in the programme on an equal footing with those from EU Member States. This will deepen the research and innovation relationship between the EU and the UK.

UK and Copernicus

Copernicus is the EU’s satellite system for observing and monitoring the Earth. It consists of a complex set of systems that collect data from multiple sources: Earth observation satellites and in situ sensors such as ground stations, airborne sensors and maritime sensors. It processes this data and provides reliable and up-to-date information across a range of services related to climate change and the environment, disaster prevention and management, and security. As such, Copernicus makes an essential contribution to achieving the goals of the EU Green Deal and carbon neutrality.

The UK will have access to all Copernicus products and services, including thematic services for land monitoring, marine environment, atmosphere, as well as climate change monitoring. Copernicus products and services will be extended to cover the UK territory. In the field of security, this will depend on the cooperation agreed between the EU and the UK in the relevant areas.

UK companies and research institutes will be eligible for contracts implemented under Copernicus under the same rules as companies from EU Member States, except where the EU Space Programme Regulation restricts participation in procurement for security reasons.

Details of the UK’s participation in these programmes

The association to both programmes will take effect from 1 January 2024.

Overall, it is estimated that the UK will contribute almost €2.6 billion per year on average for its participation in Horizon Europe and the Copernicus component of the Space Programme. This contribution is in line with the terms agreed in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

As set out in Article 22(5) of the Horizon Europe Regulation, for actions related to strategic assets, interests, autonomy or security of the Union, the work programme may provide that participation is limited to legal entities established in Member States only.