UCL European Institute


Institute Director contributes to Wellcome-Bruegel study on post-Brexit research agreement

11 February 2020

Dr Uta Staiger participated in a simulated UK-EU negotiation.


A new post-Brexit relationship on research and innovation will need to be negotiated in 2020. The Wellcome Trust and Bruegel organised a major simulation of the UK-EU negotiations in this domain. Dr Uta Staiger, European Institute Executive Director, participated in the simulation (on the UK negotiation team), alongside a team composed of experts from academia, politics and policy, led by Dr Beth Thompson, Head of UK and EU Policy at the Wellcome Trust. 

The simulation demonstrated that it is possible to reach agreement among experts on the terms of an EU-UK research and innovation deal. However, the project also revealed that some elements of an agreement may be harder to negotiate than expected. A shared purpose and belief in the importance of research and innovation is not enough to see a deal come to fruition. It is also necessary to overcome a number of political and technical challenges, which are spelled out in the report.

There was also a launch event, simulatenously in London (Wellcome) and Brussels (Bruegel) which Dr Uta Staiger spoke at.

The main outcome of the project is a report, published in January 2020: 'A post-Brexit agreement for research and innovation: Outcomes from a simulated EU-UK negotiation'. The key findings were:

  • A post-Brexit EU-UK science deal is possible and would be a 'win-win' for both parties.
  • Full UK association to Horizon Europe, with as few restrictions on access as possible, must be at the heart of any EU-UK science deal.
  • Negotiating a science deal will involve finding compromise, and time is extremely short.
  • If the UK has any chance of being part of Horizon Europe on day one, negotiations must start immediately.
  • The teams found it easy to agree broad principles but found it harder to translate this into specific text and commitments. Existing precedents from Horizon 2020 agreements and elsewhere in the Brexit negotiations provided inspiration for our final agreement. 

Read the report (pdf)