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Horizon 2020/Erasmus Programme

Volume 630: debated on Thursday 2 November 2017

8. What steps he has taken to maintain UK access to the Horizon 2020 programme and the Erasmus+ programme after the UK leaves the EU. (901560)

As the Prime Minister set out in her Florence speech, the Government would like to continue working with the EU on ways to promote the long-term economic development of our continent. That includes continuing to take part in specific programmes that are greatly to the UK’s and EU’s joint advantage, such as those promoting science, education and culture, and those promoting our mutual security. This will be a matter for the negotiations.

Why has the Secretary of State not engaged on the issue with more energy with the Commission? If access is not maintained, will there be a commitment to funding UK researchers as third-country participants?

We are engaged with great energy on this issue, but of course the structure of the talks means that this is for the future partnership. We have published a paper on these issues setting out our intention and a very open offer to the EU to discuss these issues. We look forward to seeing its papers in response, but they have not been published yet.

The Minister does not seem to get it: the time for fudge is over. UK researchers are being excluded from Horizon 2020 projects now because the Government have failed to confirm our position after March 2019. UK students who are considering applications now for Erasmus programmes starting in 2018 do not know whether they will be able to continue for those programmes’ duration. The Government can sort this out. Ministers should stop sending conflicting signals about the transitional period and commit to both programmes for the duration of the multi-annual financial framework. Will they do that?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his list of questions. The UK has already protected funding up to 2022. The research and development funding provided through EU programmes is additional to the protection of science resource funding announced at the autumn spending review. We will also underwrite successful bids to Erasmus+ that are submitted while the UK is still a member state, so the hon. Gentleman’s suggestion is simply not right.