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Brexit

For information detailing the impact of Brexit upon continued UK participation in EU research and innovation programmes, including Horizon 2020, please see the latest UK Research Office Brexit Factsheet.

UCL colleagues with queries or concerns regarding Brexit should contact a member of the ERIO team at the earliest opportunity to discuss any specific requirements:

ERIO

UK Beneficiaries can continue to participate in and coordinate Horizon 2020 grants in the event of a "no deal" Brexit

This note is intended to provide information and reassurance to those UCL Principal Investigators participating in, or coordinating, a Horizon 2020 collaborative grant that they may continue to do so in the event of a "no deal" Brexit. For the avoidance of doubt, this note only covers such a "no deal" situation; should the UK Government (as planned) conclude a Withdrawal Agreement incorporating access to Horizon 2020 funding as an "associated country", access to Horizon 2020 will remain unchanged for UK institutions for the remainder of the programme.

Funding underwrite

The UK Government has confirmed that UK Research & Innovation will underwrite the participation of all UK institutions in Horizon 2020 grants (including grants where UK institutions act as Coordinator), that are are:

  • Submitted before 30 March 2019
  • Submitted after the 30 March 2019 and where the UK is eligible to be a third country participant.

UK ability to coordinate

The UK Research Office, the UK national contact point for the Horizon 2020 programme, have been liaising directly with the European Commission throughout the Brexit process and have now confirmed 

“Beneficiaries from third countries can coordinate collaborative projects. They would be required to sign the grant agreement, be subject to a mandatory financial check (if applicable) to ensure they had the capacity to manage EU funds. The third country coordinator would carry out all coordination tasks in exactly the same way as a coordinator from a Member State (MS) or Associated Country (AC).”

From the UKRO Fact sheet: ‘Third Country Participants Not Eligible for EU Funding - Legal and Financial Considerations’ (p1)

The Swiss precedent

The UK acting as a third country coordinator is not unprecedented, as Swiss institutions were participating in, and coordinating, Horizon 2020 grants prior to 1 January 2017, at which time Switzerland's "Associated Country" status was not yet ratified.

“…when Switzerland was considered a non-eligible third country in Pillars 2 and 3 of Horizon 2020, Swiss based institutes coordinated a number of Horizon 2020 projects. In these cases, the Swiss institutions did not receive EU funding themselves, but were still responsible for transferring the EU contribution to other partners in the consortium.”

From the UK Research Office fact sheet: ‘Third Country Participants Not Eligible for EU Funding - Legal and Financial Considerations’ (p1)

Legal status

The Horizon 2020 Grant Agreement, allows a project's Coordinator to accede to the grant as a beneficiary not receiving funds.  Article 9 of this agreement goes on to state that a "third country" beneficiary can be the Coordinator.  Article 9 also establishes the specific terms and conditions that do not apply to such third country beneficiaries.  No coordination obligations are excluded in Article 9, meaning that third country beneficiaries can (and indeed must) carry out all of the standard financial and administrative roles attributed to the Coordinator.

“ARTICLE 9 — IMPLEMENTATION OF ACTION TASKS BY BENEFICIARIES NOT RECEIVING EU FUNDING [OPTION C] to be used if the beneficiary not receiving EU funding IS the coordinator and does not have linked third parties receiving EU funding:” 

From the ‘Horizon 2020 Annotated Model Grant Agreement’ (p126)

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks

The UK Research Office confirms that UK institutions will be eligible to continue as the coordinator of ITN grants:

“…this does not prevent them from participating as a beneficiary or coordinating a project, provided they are able to sign the grant agreement. As coordinator, they would be subject to a mandatory financial check (if applicable) to ensure they had the capacity to manage EU funds, and would carry out all coordination tasks in exactly the same way as a coordinator from a Member State (MS) or Associated Country (AC).”

From the UK Research Office Fact sheet: ‘Third Country Participants Not Eligible for EU Funding - Legal and Financial Considerations’ (p1) 

Conclusions

UCL, like other UK institutions will still be able to participate in, and coordinate, Horizon 2020 grants in the event of a "no deal" Brexit.  The UKRI underwrite provides assurance that UCL's own research and coordination costs will be covered by the UK Government, whilst the Horizon 2020 Grant Agreement allows third country Coordinators to receive and distribute funds to project consortia.