THE EU will need the UK “more than ever” to help raise funds for an £84billion post-Brexit space project, the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation has told Express.co.uk.
Boris Johnson will today tell newly elected MPs that their first parliamentary vote will be to “get Brexit done”. The Prime Minister will speak with the 109 newly-elected Tories as they arrive in Westminster following the party’s thumping victory over Labour in the general election last week. However, the planned separation from the EU on January 31, may not stop the UK heavily funding the bloc, in fact, they may be relying on Mr Johnson’s signature more than ever to fund a new project in space.
Horizon Europe is a planned seven-year EU scientific research initiative meant to succeed the current Horizon 2020 programme, of which the European Commission drafted and approved a plan to raise EU science spending levels by 50 percent over the years 2021-2027.
Cabinet minister Chris Skidmore has explained why the UK may have to fork-out a significant investment into it.
He told Express.co.uk: “When it comes to projects like Horizon Europe, I want us to continue with European research partnerships, I’ve not met anyone who doesn’t.
“All the contingency measures we’ve got, all the existing programmes, we are continuing to pay for, even after we get our of the European Union for the lifetime of those programmes.
“I think I’ve spoken to every European researcher and it’s been a goal of mine to show that we want to continue in Horizon 2020 as a third country.
“Obviously you’ve got this new programme, Horizon Europe, that’s coming on stream from the beginning of 2021 onwards too.”
Mr Skidmore explained why the UK will be keen to be a part of the Horizon Europe programme.
He added: “We’re in the last year of Horizon 2020 and our manifesto makes it clear that we want to continue in Horizon.
“Now it’s about battling the naysayers who claim we’re not going to be able to do it.
“I honestly think that we’re going to be able to get around the table and pay into the budget.
“The one thing is that the actual association articles aren’t open for negotiations yet because they are still agreeing the overall budget for Horizon Europe.”
Mr Skidmore went on to detail why the EU is likely to want the UK to be a part of the project.
He continued: “I think they’ve come to a settlement now on €84billion about two days ago.
“But they need more than ever to achieve that because we are currently the largest contributors financially into Horizon 2020.
“So I’m assuming we will get full access to all the programmes and I’ll be lobbying for that.
“Horizon Europe’s framework is different to Horizon 2020, before, if you were a third-party country, you couldn’t participate in certain core things like the European Research Council.”
However, things will be different for the EU’s new plans.
Mr Skidmore explained: “That’s not the same with Horizon Europe, I’ve been told by the commissioner that if we stump up the money we will be able to get full access.
“I think there’s a really strong case for continuing, we already put in about £1billion a year and get £1.3billion back, so its a net beneficial.
“So if we’re going to be putting in £18billion into research and development, we can easily afford to buy into the programme.
“As soon as we get Brexit done, I want to be straight back into having those discussions.”
Mr Skidmore also confirmed the UK will build its own replacement for the Galileo system – Europe’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), built to rival the US’s GPS system that will be used for military defence and critical national infrastructure purposes.
Among the most crucial parts of the system is the Public Regulated Service (PRS), an encrypted navigation service used by government agencies, the armed forces and emergency services.
The EU insists access to this will only be for the bloc’s members when it launches in 2020 and so it has now been confirmed Boris Johnson has “pushed forward” plans for a £5billion “full system” to launch in 2030.
They need more than ever to achieve