MASTS & BREXIT

Much like the rest of the world, the MASTS community will be coming to terms with the result of the UK EU referendum. We are now entering a period of significant uncertainty both politically and financially. The MASTS Directorate has invested considerable effort in establishing representation at European level principally through the European Marine Board (EMB) and European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EMBRC) and has been in discussions regarding the development of Integrated Training Networks (ITN). The EMB is a pan-European network with members drawn from the Council of Europe and already has members from outside the EU and therefore our representation can continue if desirable.

On the 8th July we will also be meeting with EU Commissioner Vella as part of an EMB delegation - representing the EMB University Consortia Panel. The EMB will also hold its Autumn Plenary Meeting at the MASTS Annual Science Meeting this year. We will continue to explore the potential to maintain our European partnerships, speaking with UK and Scottish Agencies and will promote the interests of MASTS members and marine science as far as possible in the uncharted territory we now find ourselves in. However, we believe that maintaining our engagement will be critical over the coming weeks and months to help understand and help shape the future direction. A cooperative and integrated approach to marine issues in Scotland will be even more crucial in the next few years and we will facilitate the support of the academic community to Marine Scotland Science as Scotland adapts to the new position. The Marine Science Coordination Committee may also gain in importance in helping to promote marine science at UK Government level and we will remain focused on raising the profile of MASTS and marine science in this evolving landscape.

MASTS will continue to represent Scottish Marine Science and lobby to ensure the issues of BREXIT are known to all parties. At present the overriding message seems to be "Keep Calm and Carry On"

For more information/queries, please contact the MASTS Directorate at masts@st-andrews.ac.uk or 01334 467200.

Examples of University statements on BREXIT and information from UKRO

 

Report lists UK universities and disciplines most dependent on EU research and innovation funding - Find out more here and here

 

Working in the UK - a Guide for EEA and Non-EEA Nationals

If you are concerned about your right to work in the UK, regardless of whether you are an EEA or Non-EEA National, you can find out more from here

Brexit: The Future for Higher Education and Research

See slides from the event held in Edinburgh on 8 Feb 2017. What would an intelligent Brexit look like? Find out here.

White paper - Brexit implications for the marine environment

Download the paper produced by ABPMer

BEIS urgent call for evidence on EU research collaboration 

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are now starting to review the submissions they received regarding UK universities being dropped from European funded research consortium. They are looking to bring their findings to Jo Johnson by the middle of next week (28th Sept) so  if they have not already done so, we would be grateful if you could ask your staff to submit any cases they may have as soon as possible to Research@bis.gsi.gov.uk. To date BEIS has only received around 50 responses and there is a concern that this is not representative of continuing sector concern. It would be particularly useful if you have any examples following the Treasury’s announcement to guarantee European funding beyond the date the UK leaves the EU. Please can we ask that any submissions are copied to Dan Hurleyat Universities UK

BREXIT impact on EU funding: Brexit Webpage on Linked-In

As many have questions regarding the impact of Brexit on EU funding, we've just launched a website with factual information on this topic. You can visit it at www.brexit-funding.com. It will be continously updated as Brexit unfolds. It's completely free and we hope you'll find it of use.

16/8/16 - UK Research Office update: UK Treasury Guarantees EU Funding for UK Researchers Beyond the Date UK Leaves the EU

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, and the Treasury, have released a statement confirming that EU funding will be guaranteed beyond the date the UK leaves the EU. The statement provides assurance that "where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funding projects while we are still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK's departure from the EU". It was also reiterated that British universities and research organisations should therefore continue to apply for EU funding through mechanisms such as Horizon 2020 while the UK remains a member of the EU. The statement from the Treasury has been welcomed in a follow-up statement from Research Councils UK, and in press releases from Innovate UK, Universities UK, HEFCE and the Russell Group.

The statement also covers structural and investment funds, and has confirmed that structural and investment fund projects signed before the 2016 Autumn Statement will be fully funded even where they continue beyond the date of UK departure from the EU. Additionally, arrangements will be made to assess whether to guarantee funding for specific structural and investment projects signed following the Autumn Statement, but before the UK leaves the EU. Further details on this will be confirmed prior to the Autumn Statement.

It was noted in the statement that David Gauke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has written to each of the devolved administrations in the UK in order to confirm that the same level of assurances provided to UK government departments also apply to them, in terms of programmes that they administer but which are dependent on EU funding.

The UK Research Office (UKRO) has already shared this information with colleagues in the European Commission, key stakeholders and analogous organisations in Brussels for further dissemination in the research communities of their own countries.  The UKRO and Research Councils UK will be working closely with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) regarding the practicalities of how the guarantee will be implemented and the UKRO will continue to feed in questions received from subscribers to help inform the development of guidance documents.

BREXIT: Scottish Government and Universities Scotland have issued a joint statement on Scottish research excellence and international collaborations

View statement: joint statement

The statement confirms that the UK is still an EU Member State with all its right and obligations and thus, Scottish universities are eligible to apply to the current round of Horizon 2020 calls. It confirms that, despite the outcome of the referendum, Scottish institutions will continue to work with their EU partners in the coming months.

Furthermore, both organisations acknowledge the contribution of EU citizens to excellent research, economy and the society, and confirm that they are welcome at Scottish universities. They also urge the UK Government to provide "immediate reassurance that the immigration status and rights of EU nationals currently living in Scotland will not change in future" and to support the reinstatement of relevant visas to ensure that Scottish institutions can attract and retain talent from outside the UK.

Lastly, the Scottish Government confirms that its goal is to maintain Scotland's current links with the EU that it will work together with Universities Scotland "to ensure Scotland's universities maintain their strong relationship with partners in the EU and have opportunities to collaborate."

BREXIT: The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee

Both held a follow-up evidence session on EU membership and UK science on Tuesday 19 July 2016. At the session, the Committee first heard evidence from Professor Alexander Halliday, Royal Society, Lord Stern of Brentford, British Academy and Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Royal Society of Edinburgh. This was followed by evidence provided by Sharon Witherspoon, Academy of Social Sciences, Professor Philip Nelson from Research Councils UK, and Ron Mobed, Elsevier.

The discussions focused on two main subjects: the opportunities and threats to UK science posed by Brexit, and its impact on the Higher Education and Research Bill (in particular future plans for UK Research and Innovation - UKRI).

Summary of discussions 

  • The witnesses acknowledged that while the future Brexit negotiations will constitute a major challenge, the Higher Education and Research Bill should not be stalled and that UKRI can help re-invigorate UK science post-Brexit. Furthermore, they agreed that discussions on research and innovation should form an important part of the Brexit negotiations and thus it is important for Research and Innovation to 'have a seat at the negotiating table'. Lord Stern made the case that Research and Innovation are at the heart of productivity and economic growth and that at times when national investment in R&I is decreasing, EU funding in those areas can significantly contribute to UK's GDP growth. The lack of EU research and innovation funding for UK organisations could further increase the gap between the UK and other international competitors, such the USA.
  • On the subject of discrimination against UK universities on EU-funded research projects, following the referendum, the witnesses agreed that while there is a need for hard evidence of such behaviour, the urgency of the matter meant that the UK cannot wait until the whole picture is painted and urged the Government to actively engage with the European Commission to prevent further cases of discrimination. It was also mentioned in this context that it is important to make a distinction between anecdotes, alleged facts and facts when collecting evidence and that the various stakeholder organisations collecting evidence should take this into account. Professor Nelson also mentioned the work of UKRO in gathering concerns and facts, and feeding them into the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, and the importance of this activity. 
  • The impact of Brexit on the various research areas in the UK was also touched upon; Lord Stern noted that socio-economic sciences and humanities (SSH) could be hit hardest by the post-Brexit lack of EU research funding.
  • According to the witnesses, one of the main opportunities for UK science post-Brexit is the potential increase in collaborations with major international partners outside the EU, such as the USA, China and India.
  • Finally, the arrangements of various Associated Countries to Horizon 2020, as well as the requirement for free movement of people/research workers were also discussed; the witnesses noted that limiting the free movement of EU research workers to the UK could pose significant challenges to UK science.

The Committee will cease its work during the summer recess, but further evidence sessions will take place in September and October.

The Higher Education and Research Bill was passed in the House of Commons on Tuesday 19 July with 294 votes in favour and 258 against; the proposed legislation is to create a ‘supercouncil’ that would include Innovate UK as well as the current seven research councils. The bill also will be scritinised at the committee stage after the summer recess.

BREXIT - Academy joint statement

The Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Irish Academy and the Learned Society of Wales have published a joint statement on research and innovation following the EU referendum. The statement covers the following areas: people, collaboration, resources and regulation. The academies state that they "stand ready to help ensure that Great Britain and Northern Ireland maintains its world leading position in research and innovation".

Moreover, the government is urged, as it explores the options for the future relationship of the UK with the EU, to "do its utmost to safeguard the UK's assets in research, scholarship and innovation" by seeking the closest achievable association with EU research programmes; ensuring talented researchers from other EU countries have certainty about opportunities to work in the UK, and likewise for UK researchers to work in other EU countries; and providing funding that will continue to promote international collaboration.

Horizon 2020 Brexit Issues - BIS Collects Evidence

BIS invites anyone who is experiencing problems when engaging with EU funding following the EU referendum. Issues can be reported by sending this template to research@bis.gsi.gov.uk.  UKRO has reported on feedback and evidence received so far, but would encourage subscribers who have already submitted examples and evidence to us to also submit this to the central email address BIS is providing.   Please note that this should be based on first-hand experience and not the experiences of others. 

Jo Johnson invited submissions yesterday when he spoke at the second evidence session in the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology's inquiry on 'Leaving the EU: Implications and opportunities for science and research'.

BREXIT: House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology's inquiry on 'Leaving the EU: Implications and opportunities for science and research'.

First to be questioned were Professor Philip Nelson (Chair, Research Councils UK) and Kevin Baughan (Chief Development Officer, Innovate UK). They were followed by Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science. The below summaries highlight the main points made by the three during the session, but the full text and video can be found on the Parliament web pages.

Philip Nelson (RCUK)

  • The biggest risks of Brexit are around the mobility of people – the UK has to be seen as a destination for expertise and this has to be the priority.
  • We must identify and take opportunities created by Brexit where we can, through working globally and building on the relationships created by the three RCUK overseas offices, but for the immediate future the focus has to be on managing risks.
  • The creation of UKRI and the changes in the HE Bill have been the direction of travel for some time, and RCUK is supportive of pushing ahead with the integration, particularly in terms of the changes with respect to research. Furthermore, it will be crucial that UKRI has a strong voice in the Brexit negotiations.
  • There has been much anecdotal evidence of UK partners being removed from consortia and leading researchers deciding not to risk coming to the UK and is concerned by this; RCUK will monitor UK participation in applications to Horizon 2020 in the near future.
  • The creation of large joint infrastructures in, for example, the area of ICT, is one of the key successes of the EU and the UK mist stay involved in that. Access for UK researchers to pan-EU facilities is an issue that will be subject to negotiation one, and is the kind of issue that it is important not to lose sight of in the bigger picture.  

Kevin Baughan (Innovate UK)

  • The business sector is an important recipient of Horizon 2020 funds.
  • Innovate UK is also keen to see the momentum towards the creation of UKRI continue.
  • Companies have concerns about decreased opportunities for collaboration. SMEs, for example, need routes into supply chains in Europe, access to research done in Europe, and access to collaboration.
  • Confidence – both in the sustainability of contracts beyond two years and of those from other EU Members States in UK partners – is a key factor in business, and the more detail the Government can give as to what will happen, the more confidence there will be – the UK simply cannot afford a two-year pause in excellence and innovation.  

Jo Johnson

  • The UK Government is fully committed to science and to ensuring that the UK remains a 'science powerhouse'.
  • The Government is currently undertaking planning and analysis across all areas, and science will be a big part of that.
  • In terms of opportunities, the Government needs communication from the research community to help identify new flexibilities in the relationship with the EU and how they can be exploited.
  • There was a lot of good work done, and a solid body of evidence provided by the scientific community in the lead up to the referendum and this will not be wasted; it will now be put to good use.
  • The UK needs to continue to be seen as a country which gives a "warm welcome to the brightest and best" and to show we understand the importance of international collaboration in research.
  • The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is currently working on a comprehensive Communications Strategy to ensure it is clear that Brexit doesn't mean increased insularity, but rather that the UK is now even more open and globally-minded.
  • It has been made clear, both by BIS and by Commissioner Moedas that there should be neither soft (in the construction of consortia) nor hard (in the assessment and awarding of grants) discrimination against UK participants. Statements of assurance from the Commission need to be regularly reiterated and he is working with Moedas on this.
  • There is concern at anecdotal reports that UK partners are being rejected as participants in and leaders of consortia and has set up a unit which is ready to receive evidence. An email address (research@bis.gsi.gov.uk) has been set up to which people to submit examples of this kind of behaviour.
  • Mr Johnson will meet regularly with Commissioner Moedas to update him on the mood of the UK scientific Community, first today and later in the month in Manchester. The Community needs to realise the UK’s current rights and obligations with respect to the EU and should be confident in submitting AND LEADING Horizon 2020 bids.
  • Despite not being a Cabinet Minister himself, Mr Johnson assured the Committee that there were plenty of 'friends of science' in the Cabinet who would make sure it was high on the list of priorities, including Sajid Javid and George Osborne [sic], who had both worked hard to protect the UK's own science budget.
  • Mr Johnson is also having lots of conversations with Oliver Letwin, who is leading on the Brexit preparations and it is clear that science is seen as one of the most important aspects of negotiations, as it represents the third biggest area in terms of UK income from the EU (after agriculture and structural funds). He is also in conversation with Sir Mark Walport on a regular basis.
  • He said the entire government is aware of the need to move swiftly to provide clarification in key areas, including science. Things should speed up once the new Prime Minister is in place.
  • The Government has taken strong steps to make the status of EU students and researchers clear for the time being and more needs to be done, but it is difficult to provide clarification as the new Prime Minister has only started. Mr Johnson can't give any assurances on matters relating to immigration policy at this point.
  • It is still too early to say which model of post-Brexit involvement in Horizon 2020 is most appropriate, or whether a bespoke arrangement is needed.
  • Despite the uncertainty surrounding access to EU funding, the implementation of the Higher Education bill will continue – and indeed, it is now more important than ever to make rapid progress to create a strong and consistent voice for UK science to feed into government policy and negotiations with the EU.
  • The overall broad message is that the UK must remain confident, open, and as welcoming to the best and brightest researchers as it always has been.

BEXIT statement by  Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science Source: UKRO announcement

  • It has been made clear, both by BIS and by Commissioner Moedas that there should be neither soft (in the construction of consortia) nor hard (in the assessment and awarding of grants) discrimination against UK participants. Statements of assurance from the Commission need to be regularly reiterated and he is working with Moedas on this.
  • Mr Johnson is concerned at anecdotal reports that UK partners are being rejected as participants in and leaders of consortia and has set up a unit which is ready to receive evidence. An email address (research@bis.gsi.gov.uk) has been set up to which people to submit examples of this kind of behaviour.
  • MASTS will be submitting material to this e-mail this week (13th July)

BREXIT: Research Councils UK

They have released a statement on international collaboration post the outcome of the EU referendum. The statement states that:

'While the UK remains a full member of the European Union we encourage researchers to continue to engage with partners in the EU and with European funding schemes as normal. The Research Councils recognise that there is uncertainty about the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU in general and specifically affecting aspects of the research system. We are working with Government to ensure that the concerns and needs of UK researchers are represented and are considered in the negotiation of a future relationship with the EU.​'

The full statement covers international and European collaboration; mobility; postgraduate funding and access to research infrastructure. The statement also includes a paragraph on the role of UKRO:

'The UK Research Office (UKRO), the European Office of the Research Councils, will continue to deliver all of its usual services and will aim to provide updates on the most pressing queries as soon as details emerge. UKRO will continue to play a facilitation role between the research community and all relevant stakeholders over the coming period. This work includes working closely with the Research Councils and collating questions from its other subscribers.'

BREXIT: Informal meeting at 27 - Brussels, 29 June 2016 – Statement: 

From UKRO Site: The European Commission have released a  statement  regarding the outcome of the EU Referendum in the UK. The statement, published on 4 July, is the statement of the Heads of State orGovernment of 27 EU Member States, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission. The statement confirms that "until the UK leaves the EU, EU law continues to apply to and within the UK, both when it comes to rights and obligations. This includes the eligibility of UK legal entities to participate and receive funding in Horizon 2020 actions."

We, the Heads of State or Government of 27 Member States, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, deeply regret the outcome of the referendum in the UK but we respect the will expressed by a majority of the British people. Until the UK leaves the EU, EU law continues to apply to and within the UK, both when it comes to rights and obligations. Informal meeting at 27 - Brussels, 29 June 2016 – Statement

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/press-releases-pdf/2016/6/47244643704_en.pdf

https://www.ukro.ac.uk/subscribers/articles/general-news/30c94f0e-4286-4585-9f53-e5a69d28a068/1397  (Note: needs free registration  to UKRO) 

BREXIT: UKRO European Advisor

Q - Given the BREXIT result, UK leadership of new EU projects (being submitted in the next two years, including this September ) is being challenged by partners as likely to disadvantage the projects.  Is there any official view on this, should the UK parties avoid project leadership. 

A - There is no immediate change, UK organisations can continue to participate in Horizon 2020 under the same terms and conditions as they currently do, and should not be discriminated against during the evaluation of proposals.  Jo Johnson is in close contact with Commissioner Moedas on this issue. We also understand that evaluators will be briefed not to discriminate against UK applicants.

BREXIT: First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister’s statement to statement to Parliament on the outcome of the EU referendum can be viewed at: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/First-Minister-s-statement-on-EU-referendum-25c5.aspx

BREXIT: Jo Johnson Minister of State for Universities and Science

Statement on EU Referendum Result.  Jo Johnson, has issued a statement clarifying the current position for UK higher education and research in the light of the EU referendum result last week. The key points of relevance to UK Research Office subscribers are as follows:

  • The government will continue taking forward legislation set before the Parliament in the Queen’s Speech, including the Higher Education and Research Bill.
  • There will be no immediate changes following the Referendum, including in the circumstance of British citizens living in the EU, and European citizens here. This includes those studying or working at UK universities.
  • The referendum result does not affect students studying in the EU, beneficiaries of Erasmus+, or those considering applying in 2017; existing UK students studying in the EU, and those looking to start in the next academic year, will continue to be subject to current arrangements.
  • Neither does the referendum result have an immediate effect on those applying to, or participating in, Horizon 2020. UK participants can continue to apply to the programme in the usual way.

Future access to EU higher education and science funding will be a matter for future discussions; the Government is “determined to ensure that the UK continues to play a leading role in European and international research”.

BREXIT: The House of Commons Science & Technology Committee

The House of Commons Science & Technology Committee has decided to examine the implications and opportunities of leaving the EU for science and research. The Committee intends to hold hearings on this inquiry during July, and invites written submissions during that period.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/news-parliament-2015/leaving-the-eu-inquiry-launch-16-17/

Anne Glover was interviewed this morning and made a strong case for the value of Horizon 2020 funding, being in the EU to be able to influence the direction of H2020, and free movement of scientists within the EU.

BREXIT: Standing Council on Europe

Downloads     28/06/2016 14:30

First Minister forms group to advise on Scotland’s relationship with the EU. Professor Anton Muscatelli will chair a group of experts to advise the Scottish Government on securing Scotland’s relationship with the EU, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today.

The Standing Council on Europe comprises specialists in legal, financial, business and diplomatic matters.

The First Minister made the announcement during a statement to Parliament on the outcome of the EU referendum. Ms Sturgeon said:

“The Scottish Government’s overriding objective is to protect Scotland’s relationship with and place in the European Union. The Standing Council on Europe will provide advice on how best to achieve those objectives.

BREXIT: Marine Biological Association

Promoting marine biology and excellence in research is central to the mission of the Marine Biological Association (MBA). The recent vote for Britain to leave the European Union raises significant uncertainties surrounding essential funding for the UK marine biology community.  The impact of this goes far beyond the UK as European funding has enabled UK-based scientists to play a crucial role in working collaboratively with colleagues in Europe and beyond. Significant progress in the marine biological and environmental sciences can no longer be achieved without strong international collaborations. Marine Biologists, based at the Association’s laboratory for example, are involved in major initiatives that would allow European marine scientists’ access to the expertise and facilities available in marine laboratories throughout the UK as well as providing UK scientists with open access to large-scale European facilities not available in the UK.  

As a Chartered Body promoting marine biology the MBA will actively engage with the UK Government to help ensure adequate resources are made available to support marine research, education and advice provision. The MBA will also be stressing the importance of having mechanisms in place for collaboration and networking so that the ability of the marine biological community to meet today’s marine environmental challenges and address fundamental research questions is not compromised.