In a significant development, the European Commission and the United Kingdom have announced a political agreement regarding the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe, the European Union’s flagship research and innovation programme, as well as Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation programme. This milestone demonstrates the shared commitment to advancing scientific research, innovation, and space exploration, while reaffirming the strategic partnership and alliance between the EU and the UK. The agreement reflects a culmination of discussions between the EU and the UK and promises to bring together research and space communities, further enhancing their cooperation.


Mutually Beneficial Agreement

The agreement, reached after extensive negotiations, is equipped to deliver mutual benefits to both the EU and the UK. It not only solidifies their collaboration in research, innovation, and space, but also ensures that the UK continues to play a vital role in shaping global scientific research.


Under the terms of this accord, the UK will become a full participant in Horizon Europe and Copernicus, beginning on January 1, 2024. Researchers and organisations from the UK will enjoy equal footing with their counterparts in EU Member States, gaining access to funding opportunities provided by Horizon Europe and being able to lead consortia. For calls from the 2023 Work Programmes, the Commission will continue to administer transitional arrangements and the UK will continue to provide funding under the UK Guarantee.


Copernicus: A Gateway to Earth Observation

The UK’s association with Copernicus grants the country access to state-of-the-art technology to monitor the Earth and to its services. The programme’s capacity to provide real-time data on climate, weather, and environmental factors is invaluable in fostering sustainable practices and informed decision-making. Moreover, the UK’s participation in Copernicus offers a gateway to accessing services provided by the EU Space Surveillance and Tracking services, an essential component of the broader EU Space Programme.


Financial Commitments

While welcoming the UK into these programmes, the agreement ensures that the financial aspects are well-structured. The UK will be required to contribute financially to the EU budget, adhering to the safeguards outlined in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. It is estimated that the UK’s annual contribution to both Horizon Europe and Copernicus will average nearly €2.6 billion.

Next Steps

The political agreement must undergo formal approval by the Council before it can be adopted by the EU-UK Specialised Committee on Participation in Union Programmes.

Further information can be found on the Commission’s website.

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