Post Brexit UK struggles to secure participation in EU’s Copernicus programme

22nd Dec 2021
Post Brexit UK struggles to secure participation in EU’s Copernicus programme

It seems Brexit had quite a damaging effect on the UK; beyond the usual loss of exports/imports and fear, the UK could potentially lose access to vital satellite data. The deadline for the UK association in the EU’s Copernicus programme passed on November 30th, yet no answer came from the government, leaving the programme and UK scientists worrying about the future.

Post-Brexit UK may not take part in future climate research

The UK government was supposed to give an answer whether they would take part in the Copernicus Programme but failed to do so. This has resulted in the situation becoming a double edged knife. Not only are UK scientists at risk of losing access to valuable satellite data, but the Copernicus programme is at risk of losing over £640 million (€750 million) in funding provided by the UK. Copernicus needs this money to stay operational and continue to survey weather patterns and climate change.

ESA’s Josef Aschbacher stated publicly that Copernicus was a ‘top priority’ and that the programme needs to continue functioning, with or without the UK’s help.

The question now is: if the UK doesn’t fork over the £640 million, then who will?

Will post-Brexit UK continue working with Horizon Europe?

The confusion surrounding the Copernicus programme aside, what will the UK do with the Horizon Europe initiative?

Post-Brexit UK government officials have come forward stating that the government is willing to provide a safety net for Horizon Europe applicants as association delays continue. This safety net is meant to cover the upcoming months of negotiations without delaying the first wave of applicants. 

According to Minister George Freeman, the Horizon programme has been vital for UK researchers and collaboration with the EU. 

He also went ahead and stated that the EU is committed to supporting the post-Brexit UK’s research sector in further international collaborations.

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