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michael rogers's picture

Having asked the Commission formally what the situation of UK entities is during the transition period from March 30th 2018 to 31 Dec 2020, after 6 weeks of posing and posting the question to various parts of DG Research (responsible for the whole H2020 Programe and Budget), the managing Research Executive Agency and Europe Direct, I had not obtained a single concrete answer to the question I posed: Now, finally, we have some clarity, albeit from the single side of the UK.

The UK government has published a white paper titled ‘Legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union’, which sets out the government’s plans for legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement. This will include the implementation period.

Regarding participation in the EU budget, the white paper notes: “Under the financial settlement, the UK will contribute to the EU’s budget in 2019 and 2020, which covers the implementation period following the UK’s withdrawal. The UK will also benefit from the implementation of the budget as if it had remained a Member State over this period.

This means that the UK will continue to draw advantages from the normal management of projects and programmes funded through the current Multiannual Financial Framework until their closure, whether they are managed by the UK government (such as the European Regional Development Fund) or directly allocated to beneficiaries from EU institutions (such as Horizon 2020).”

What does the Withdrawal Agreement say about Horizon 2020?

The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship between the UK and EU were endorsed by leaders at a special meeting of the European Council on 25 November. This includes the following Articles concerning participation in Union programmes such as Horizon 2020.

Article 127 (6) states: “Unless otherwise provided in this Agreement, during the transition period, any reference to Member States in the Union law applicable pursuant to paragraph 1, including as implemented and applied by Member States, shall be understood as including the United Kingdom.

Article 135 (1) states: “For the years 2019 and 2020, in accordance with Part Four, the UK shall contribute to and participate in the implementation of the Union Budgets.”

Article 137 (1) states: “…the Union programmes and activities committed under the MFF 2014-2020 or previous financial perspectives shall be implemented in 2019 and 2020 with regard to the United Kingdom on the basis of the applicable Union law.”

Article 138(1) states: “In respect of the implementation of the Union programmes and activities committed under the MFF 2014-2020 or previous financial perspectives, applicable Union law, including the rules on financial corrections and on clearance of accounts, shall continue to apply to United Kingdom after 31 December 2020 until the closure of those Union programmes and activities.”

In a nutshell, it means business as usual for the remainder of H2020. Horizon 2020 is a Union programme committed under the MFF 2014-2020. The intention is that, when ratified (and i regret to note that this is far from certain), the Withdrawal Agreement would allow for continued UK participation in Horizon 2020. The UK Parliament will vote on this bill in about 2 weeks, and all of the above in contingent on the ratification of the said agreement; all 600 pages of it. 

The UK government has also given certain fiancial guarantees to projects whose life cycle may extend beyond the calendar end of the H2020 programme.

UK entities wanting more information will, i am sure, continue to rely on the support of UKRO in the meantime,

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