MEPs adopt plan to keep 2020 EU funding for UK in no-deal Brexit scenario

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages
© GettyImages

Related tags: Brexit, funding, Research, Horizon Europe

The EU Parliament today backed a plan to secure EU budget payments to UK beneficiaries like universities, local communities, farmers and Erasmus students.

The decision is contingent on the UK paying its share into the EU budget. In addition, the UK should commit in writing to accept the controls and audits that cover the entire implementation period of the programmes or the actions.

What it would mean is that EU funds for 2020 would be available to UK researchers, students and farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit, under the provisions adopted. 

This draft regulation extends to 2020 the contingency plan approved by the European Parliament on 17 April 2019, previously limited to 2019.

The aim, said the MEPs, is to minimize any negative impact that the UK's withdrawal may have on beneficiaries of EU funding and on the EU budget in the case of a no-deal scenario. The measure includes programs such as Horizon 2020, Erasmus+ and agriculture and regional policies.

The proposal would make it possible to continue payments to UK beneficiaries throughout 2020, if the conditions are met.

The draft recommendation by rapporteur Johan Van Overtveldt (ECR, BE), chair of the committee on Budgets, was adopted with 543 votes in favor, 30 against, and 46 abstentions.

Britain currently pays about £1bn (US$1.2bn) into Europe’s Horizon 2020 program and receives £1.5bn back in scientific research grants. More than a dozen non-member states have negotiated full access to the program as 'associated countries', but involvement in its successor, Horizon Europe, which starts in January 2021, is still being worked out, found a piece​ about such funding on The Guardian.​ 

Brexit is causing delays in that direction as well.

"When (or if) it leaves the EU, the UK is expected to join the queue of non-EU countries seeking Horizon membership. The commission has not wanted to show its negotiating hand to any other country, lest that prejudice the difficult negotiations with the UK. But at the same time, EU leaders can’t finalise the Horizon legislation until they know the size of the budget, and again, that depends on whether the UK is in or out of the EU,"​ as per a story​ in Science Business​.

Meanwhile, MEPs said an additional contingency measure, allowing member states directly impacted by Brexit to access financial support from the EU Solidarity Fund, will be put to the vote on Thursday, following an agreement in the Regional Development Committee earlier on Monday.

Related topics: Regulation, Europe

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