Frost gives cool reception to EU stance on Horizon

Speaking at a hearing with lawmakers on the UK parliament’s European Scrutiny committee, Frost complained that “We are getting quite concerned about this actually.” [EPA-EFE / VICKIE FLORES]

The EU risks breaching its obligations if it continues to shut out UK organisations from the ‘Horizon Europe’ research fund, UK Brexit minister David Frost said on Monday (25 October).

Speaking at a hearing with lawmakers on the UK parliament’s European Scrutiny committee, Frost complained that “We are getting quite concerned about this actually.”

“There is an obligation in Article 710 of the trade and cooperation agreement to finalise our participation. It uses the word ‘shall’. It is an obligation. It would obviously be a breach of the treaty if the EU doesn’t deliver on this obligation,” he added.

In frustration at the UK’s position over the Northern Ireland protocol, the European Commission has made approval for the UK’s participation tied to the outcome of Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations, EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel has said.

Last December, the EU provisionally agreed to the UK participating in its new research programmes, among relatively few EU programmes that Boris Johnson’s government wants to retain access to. These include “Horizon Europe” and the Copernicus earth observation programme, in return for an estimated £2.1 billion contribution.

However, UK organisations are still unable to bid for funding, and the UK government has withheld payment of its contribution.

During the hearing Frost also commented on the state of talks with the EU over the Irish protocol ahead of an EU delegation arriving in London on Tuesday for further discussions.

Frost said that the proposals tabled last week by the European Commission proposals “do, for the first time, acknowledge they might be willing to change their own laws in order to deal with the special situation in Northern Ireland”.

“The problem with them is that they don’t go far enough.”

(Benjamin Fox | EURACTIV.com)

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