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Blocking the UK from EU science programs is bad for everyone

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The UK filed a formal appeal against the exclusion from the EU’s science programs in August – and on Monday called on the bloc to allow it access again.

The British government says that participation in Horizon Europethe EU’s flagship program — which funds research, nuclear regulator Euratom, and the Copernicus Satellite Monitoring Group – was outlined in the post-Brexit trade deal. The UK has since claimed it has been blocked.

The UK’s exit agreement with the EU allows it to participate in Horizon Europe as long as it also contributes to funding for the programme.

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But according to the European Commission, the UK’s status in the program will not be confirmed until the deadlock over the Northern Ireland Protocol is solved.

The protocol is a special agreement that essentially keeps Northern Ireland within the EU’s internal market and customs union, to create a hard border between Northern Ireland – which is part of the UK – and the Republic of Ireland, which is a EU member state.

Politicizing international cooperation

At the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Meeting held on Monday and Tuesday, the Minister for Europe, Leo Docherty, said:

“We will all benefit from the UK’s participation and it poses no conceivable disadvantage to the EU or its member states, but the EU has politicized scientific cooperation by linking it to the Northern Ireland Protocol.”

He continued: “Politics getting in the way of scientific collaboration limits human potential and harms everyone.”