Lord Frost gives update on UK’s participation in Horizon Europe
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The Government is understood to be ready to trigger “formal consultations” – a mechanism under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement used to resolve disputes – as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the government’s plans have claimed. The UK is accused the EU of excluding it from Horizon Europe, the Copernicus earth observation project, and the nuclear regulator Euratom.
Pro-Brexit think tank Facts4EU last month urged Britain to withdraw from the science projects, into which it is currently committed to paying £11billion, a pro-Brexit think tank has said.
A Facts4EU spokesman said the move stemmed from Brussels’ desire to “blackmail” the UK over the Northern Ireland Protocol, the controversial mechanism aimed at preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Critics in the Unionist community claim it has instead resulted in a border down the Irish Sea.
The spokesman added: “It’s time to consign the EU’s science projects to the petri dish of history, and withdraw £11billion UK funding.”
“Why should the UK commit to £11billion for EU science projects it’s banned from?”
An EU memo leaked last year revealed fears that Britain was indeed planning to walk away from the schemes, into which UK taxpayers are currently committed to pay £2.1billion annually for the next seven years – the lifetime of the EU’s current budget.
An unnamed eurocrat said: “It seems the UK is always testing our limits, much in the same way that toddlers do.”
The memo suggests there is a widespread belief among UK ministers that participation in all three schemes is being deliberately stalled by the EU, meaning Britain’s universities are missing out on research and funding opportunities.
Express.co.uk has approached the UK Government for comment.
(More to follow)
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