UCL and Brexit


EU-UK Deal: Implications for Research

The UK will associate to Horizon Europe, the new EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Implications for research


1. Now that the Brexit transition period has ended, can UK researchers still apply for research funding from the EU?

Yes. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement includes agreement for the UK to associate to Horizon Europe, the EU’s €95.5 billion, seven-year Framework Programme for Research and Innovation that succeeds Horizon 2020.

This means UK researchers will be able to participate in nearly all parts of Horizon Europe, including:

  • leading and participating in collaborative projects
  • European Research Council
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
  • European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERICs)
  • European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
  • European Innovation Council (EIC).

The UK is also associating to the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) programme, meaning that the UK will retain full membership of COST as well.

As a researcher applying to the above schemes, you should not experience any change as a consequence of Brexit.

2. When can UK researchers start applying for research funding from Horizon Europe?

Once the Regulation establishing Horizon Europe has been ratified, UK association to Horizon Europe is expected to be formalised quickly. This is likely to take place in time for the first Horizon Europe funding calls, expected to be launched in April 2021.
In advance of the programme being finalised, some tentative call dates have been published for the European Research Council.

3.    What support does UCL have to offer for academics and their partners interested in applying for EU funding?

UCL’s European Research and Innovation Office (ERIO) offers a full suite of support services to academics targeting all Horizon Europe funding streams.

ERIO works closely with the research facilitators in the SLASH/IOE, BEAMS and SLMS Research Coordination Offices in supporting those applying to individual-led schemes (e.g. European Research Council and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions). For queries and support regarding these please contact the SLASH/IOE, BEAMS or SLMS Research Coordination Offices and the ERIO Contracts Team.

ERIO’s support also includes comprehensive pre-award proposal and partnership development services, and post-award project and innovation management services, to collaborative project consortia (both UCL-led and externally led):

See the UCL Brexit and ERIO Brexit webpages for further information relating to Brexit and research.

4. How will the UK pay for access to Horizon Europe?

The UK will pay for access to the programme based on its GDP relative to the EU27 GDP, plus an administrative fee (0.5% of the UK contributions in year 1, rising to 4%).

If, over two years in a row, the cost of UK grants exceeds 8% of its contribution to the programme, then the UK will have to reimburse the EU. Conversely, if the UK wins 12% less than it contributes to the programme, it can call for a review of how to improve UK performance. If the UK wins 16% less than its contribution, the UK could choose to withdraw from Horizon Europe.

It is currently unclear whether there will be any attempt at national triaging of applications (e.g. by Government or UKRI) to ensure the UK does not overshoot its contribution to the programme.

5. Will the UK be able to influence EU research programmes?

The UK will have observer rights on programme committees and the European Research Area Committee. It will not be able to vote, but these committees do not often hold votes.

6. Will researchers in the UK be able to visit the EU (and vice versa) for research purposes?

Yes. Under the new points-based immigration system, EU citizens will be able to come to the UK for six months without the need to obtain a visa, in order to carry out certain business or academic activities, such as going to a conference or a meeting, but not to do a work placement or internship.

For those involved in EU research programmes, the UK and EU have agreed to facilitate the entry and residence of students, researchers, trainees and volunteers.

7. How will the new immigration system affect researchers?

EU citizens who had moved to the UK by 31 December 2020 are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and will have until 30 June 2021 to do so.

As of 1 January 2021, free movement has ended and the UK’s new points-based system has taken effect. Under the new system, EU and non-EU citizens are considered in the same way.

To be eligible to apply for a visa through the skilled workers route, applicants will need to reach 70 points. An individual who has a job offer at the appropriate skill level with a salary of at least £20,480 (20 points) from an approved sponsor (20 points) and speaks English (10 points) will need to secure 20 further points. These 20 points can be secured by meeting one of the following conditions:

  • the salary of their UK job offer being at least £25,600
  • the job being in a shortage occupation
  • the applicant holding a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job
  • the salary being at least £23,040 AND the applicant holding a PhD in a non-STEM subject relevant to the job.

Skilled workers will be able to be accompanied by their dependents.

An alternative route is the existing Global Talent Visa, intended for ‘leaders’ in academia and other fields, which is now open to EU citizens. This is an unsponsored route, which means the applicant needs to get endorsement from a relevant body, but does not need to hold a job offer.