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Research funding

Latest update - 15 January 2021

Horizon Europe Update

The UK association to Horizon Europe has been confirmed as FULL association, which will enable participation in ERC , MSCA and COST

UK researchers will still be able to still lead (coordinate) Horizon Europe projects, exactly as they did in previous Framework Programmes.

The Next Steps

The Regulation establishing the programme must now be formally adopted by the Council and the Parliament before entering into force. Horizon Europe is expected to officially start in February 2021 with a dedicated retroactivity clause allowing it to be operational from 1 January.  Negotiations on the association of third countries to the programme can commence only once the programme’s legal basis is formally adopted.

The first Horizon Europe calls are expected in the spring (March/April 2021).

Eligibility, scope and duration - summary

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) provides that any individual or organisation established in the UK is eligible to apply for and be awarded EU funding from any Union programmes covered in Protocol I of the TCA.

This includes:

All pillars of Horizon Europe (including the European Research Council and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions) as well as:

  • Joint Research Centre activities
  • Article 185 and 187 partnerships
  • The European Institute of Innovation and Technology
  • The European Research Infrastructures Consortium
  • The European Research Area Committee.
  • Euratom Research and Training Programme
  • European Joint Undertaking for ITER (‘F4E’) and the Development of Fusion Energy
  • Copernicus

The UK government website has separately confirmed that the UK will continue to participate in the COST programme.

The only part of Horizon Europe in which the UK will not participate is the European Innovation Council (EIC) fund (the investment fund part of the EIC Accelerator Fund), to which the UK declined to sign up, this is a new funding stream in Horizon Europe which will award funding to SMEs in the form of equity.  It should be noted that UK entities will still be eligible for grant-based EIC funding streams - we expect these to include:

  • EIC Pathfinder Fund
  • EIC Transition Fund
  • EIC Accelerator fund (but not the investment component)

The agreement lasts for the full duration of the programmes covered (seven years, except for Euratom RTP which runs until 2025, albeit a two-year extension is foreseen in Protocol I), unless any of the suspension or termination clauses are triggered before the end of the agreement . A new Protocol I may subsequently be adopted to allow for continued UK participation in future EU programmes.


4 Jan 2020

Horizon Europe Update - UK Association to the Programme

On 24 December 2020 the UK Government announced the conclusions of the negotiations with the European Commission.

The announcement included confirmation that the UK will associate to Horizon Europe subject to ratification of the overall deal and finalisation of the Horizon Europe Programme regulations, however, UK participation in the EU’s Erasmus+ student/staff exchange programme will end (there are national programmes being considered which we hope will bridge this gap).

Details included in the Declarations

The Horizon Europe programme is included in the Draft Protocol of the Joint Declaration on Participation in Union Programmes and Access to Programme Services alongside the Space Programme, ITER and the Euratom training programme.  The Draft Protocol includes information on the duration of UK participation (full duration of the programme or duration of the next EU budget 2021-27) and lists specific terms and conditions of UK participation in Horizon Europe - these include full participation in Horizon Europe (with the exception of the European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund which is part of the EIC Accelerator and provides investment through equity or other repayable form).

The Draft Protocol also states the that the UK may participate in Joint Research Centre (JRC) activities, European Partnerships in the form of Article 185 and 187, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), ERICs (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) and the European Research Area Committee (ERAC).

We are still waiting for further details, and confirmation that this will include ERC and MSCA (though the regulations establishing Horizon Europe has no restrictions for associated countries apart from the EIC).

The Draft Protocol also includes details on an automatic financial correction mechanism to be used for determining the UK's financial contribution to Horizon Europe.

The UK has also reached agreement with the EU to associate to the next Euratom Research & Training (R&T) Programme 2021-2025, this agreement includes UK participation in the ITER fusion collaboration through membership of Fusion for Energy.

Once the overall deal has been ratified by all sides and the Horizon Europe and ITER programme regulations have been finalised there will be a formal process between the UK and the EU to conclude the association agreement.

Full details of the legal text is available on the GOV.UK website.

UK participation in Horizon 2020 remains unchanged

The Withdrawal Agreement means that the UK can continue to participate in EU programmes, including Horizon 2020, that are financed by the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) until their closure (i.e. for the lifetime of grants). UK participants will continue to receive EU grant funding for the lifetime of individual Horizon 2020 projects, including projects finishing after the transition period ends at the end of 2020.


If you have any questions about Brexit and Horizon 2020 or Horizon Europe please contact Liz Fay.

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