Business leaders are calling on Rishi Sunak to take the UK back into Horizon Europe, but Sunak is wary about re-joining due to the cost

Over 30 leading business figures have signed a letter to Rishi Sunak arguing that the UK must participate in Horizon Europe.

The UK left Horizon Europe as part of the Brexit deal. Still, business leaders suggest that the recent improvement in UK-EU relations should allow Sunak to rejoin successfully.

However, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is not convinced because he has concerns over the costs of re-joining.

What was Horizon 2020?

Horizon 2020 was the EU’s research and innovation funding programme from 2014-2020 with a budget of nearly €80 billion.

The programme has been succeeded by Horizon Europe. All news, events, programme details, project lists and more are available on the archived Horizon 2020 website.

What is Horizon Europe?

Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5 billion.

It tackles climate change, helps to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and boosts the EU’s competitiveness and growth.

The programme facilitates collaboration and strengthens the impact of research and innovation in developing, supporting and implementing EU policies while tackling global challenges. It supports creating and better dispersing of excellent knowledge and technologies.

It creates jobs, fully engages the EU’s talent pool, boosts economic growth, promotes industrial competitiveness and optimises investment impact within a strengthened European Research Area.

Legal entities from the EU and associated countries can participate.

‘Horizon Europe does these things in a way the UK alone could not’

The letter reads: “At our annual conference last year, firms welcomed the vision you set out – a government delivering a growth agenda through skills, innovation and investment in science.

“Horizon Europe does these things in a way the UK alone could not.

“Therefore, as members of the CBI’s Innovation Council and Member Sector Trade Associations we ask that the government continues to prioritise association without delay.”

Its signees include heads of the following trade associations:

  • Tech UK
  • The National Farmers Union
  • Chemicals Industries Association
  • Logistics UK

Why do business leaders want the UK to participate in Horizon Europe once again?

Matthew Fell, interim director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), believes that the benefits of the UK belonging to Horizon Europe would “go far beyond funding”. He adds that Horzion would enhance data sharing and improve research opportunities.

‘The benefits of association go beyond the funding the government can provide’

Conservative MP Greg Clark, Chair of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, explained how “the benefits of association go beyond the funding the government can provide, and what we would be losing out on if the delay continues”.

He told PoliticsHome: “I have urged the European Commission and the UK government to advance and conclude the negotiations as soon as possible. My Committee has pressed for answers and is waiting for the government to respond to our questions on the status of the discussions, the UK’s position on the terms of association and the negotiation timetable.”


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