Horizon 2020 funding for UK participants - if there’s no Brexit deal in October 2019

by michael rogers

Tomorrow will see a new Prime Minister take on the BREXIT challenge. Specifically, he has not ruled out a no deal scenario. Delivering the deal negotiated with the EU remains the government’s top priority. This has not changed. The text below is the governments current advice to UK participants. It deals with funding issues.  Legal issues about eligibility are a different issue and not dealt with yet.  Also about the legal status of non-UK nationals is not dealt with in this note.

It must be emphasized that this is the current advice to UK H2020 participants, and, like so much these days, is possibly subject to change.

The government must prepare for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario. For 2 years, the UK government has been implementing a significant programme of work to ensure that the UK is prepared to leave the EU.

Last summer, the government published a series of 106 technical notices setting out information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in a no deal scenario so they can make informed plans and preparations.


This notice provides information on plans to support UK research and innovation in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. This includes the Horizon 2020 funding guarantee and the extension to the guarantee. It is aimed at UK organisations, such as universities and businesses, who are in receipt of Horizon 2020 funding or who are bidding for such funding. It will also be of interest to EU organisations who work with UK participants on Horizon 2020 projects.

Before the UK leaves the EU

Horizon 2020 is an EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding. The UK has secured €5.5 billion of funding to date (13.5% of the total).

Horizon 2020 couples research and innovation, focusing on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The UK and EU’s intention is that the eligibility of UK researchers and businesses to participate in Horizon 2020 will remain unchanged for the remaining duration of the programme.

This has been agreed as part of the Financial Settlement which was signed-off by both UK and European Commission negotiators in a draft Withdrawal Agreement and welcomed by the other 27 EU countries at the March European Council. But it is subject to that agreement being ratified by the UK Parliament, which is an area of uncertainty.

The government has reached an agreement with the EU on an extension to Article 50 until 31 October 2019, with the option to leave earlier as soon as a deal has been ratified. During this extension period the UK will remain a member of the EU with all the relevant rights and obligations. This means that the UK will continue to participate in Horizon 2020 as an EU Member State.

In this extension period, UK organisations and individuals in receipt of Horizon 2020 funding should continue their project activity in line with the existing terms and conditions set out in any EU grant agreement. Beneficiaries should not terminate their agreement with the EU.

Under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU, the UK will continue to participate in the programmes financed by the current EU Budget until their closure. This means that all EU funded programmes will be fully funded under the current 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework.

Leaving the EU with a deal remains the government’s top priority.

After the UK leaves the EU in a ‘no deal’ scenario

In the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario, the UK’s departure from the EU would mean UK organisations may be unable to access funding for Horizon 2020 projects after exit day. However, as a responsible government we’ve been preparing to minimise any disruption in the event of no deal for over two years. That is why the Chancellor announced in August and October 2016 that the government will guarantee funding for competitively bid for EU projects submitted before the UK leaves the EU, including Horizon 2020 projects. The guarantee will cover all successful bids submitted by UK participants before the UK exits the EU, for the full duration of the projects.


In July 2018, the Chief Secretary laid a written ministerial statement (HCWS926) extending this guarantee to provide further stability for UK organisations in a ‘no deal’ scenario. The extension to the guarantee will additionally cover funding for successful bids where UK organisations are able to participate as a Third Country in competitive EU grant programmes. This extension runs from exit day until the end of 2020 and will apply for the lifetime of the projects.

In the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario, UK researchers and businesses would be able to apply to and participate in all those Horizon 2020 calls open to Third Country participants from the date of exit, with funding provided via the extension to the guarantee.

Third Country participation is a well-established part of Horizon 2020 - entities from third countries currently participate in and lead consortia in a wide range of collaborative programmes. The government is seeking discussions with the European Commission to agree the details of our continued participation as a Third Country. However, in some IMPORTANT areas this may fundamentally affect eligibility and IPR issues – see below.

The guarantee covers funding committed to UK Horizon 2020 grant holders. Funding provided to recipients under the guarantee can be used in line with existing arrangements, for example to procure goods or services outside of the UK, provided this is currently permitted. The guarantee will also cover any administrative costs incurred by a UK organisation responsible for coordinating certain EU funded projects.

However, it will not cover funding that had been committed by the EU to non-UK beneficiaries.

We are aware of some cases where UK participants lead a consortium and are responsible for distributing funding to the other participants. Third Country participants in Horizon 2020 are eligible to coordinate projects, and we are seeking to discuss with the European Commission the mechanism by which UK coordinators would disburse EU funding to other partners in a no deal scenario. The guarantee and extension include funding for co-ordination tasks if they are carried out by a UK coordinator. This will help ensure that the UK remains at the centre of collaborative science and research.

These discussions with the European Commission will also need to include consideration of projects where the UK’s change in status from EU member state to Third Country could lead to concerns about ongoing compliance with Horizon 2020 rules (for example, where a consortium no longer meets the threshold for Member State and/or Associated Country participants).

Third Country participation does not extend to some Horizon 2020 calls; these include European Research Council (ERC) grants, some Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and the SME instrument.

Further updates will be provided on Horizon 2020 no deal planning in due course.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

For all UK recipients

The Government has commissioned UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) to deliver the guarantee and extension for Horizon 2020 projects, if it is required. UKRI will use existing systems to administer the guarantee and extension to ensure a smooth transition in funding arrangements for UK beneficiaries.

Current UK recipients of Horizon 2020 funding should provide initial data about project(s) on a portal hosted on GOV.UK, if they have not already done so. The portal is designed to ensure that UKRI has information about projects and participants in order to deliver the guarantee if required. UKRI will ensure that details of UK systems and processes are shared through the portal before UK beneficiaries are required to take any action.

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