Our colleagues at UKRO have just published a great article on the findings and recommendations of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on ‘EU Membership and UK Science’ (Ed – you’ll need to be logged in to read this).
The report (available in full here), drawing on evidence from witnesses representing (amongst others) learned societies, industry, the HE sector, research organisations, charities and professional bodies, uncovered enthusiasm amongst the UK science community for continued EU membership.
The findings highlight the fact that whilst the UK is a net contributor to the EU, in terms of funding for science and research it is a net receiver, performing well in drawing down funding from programmes like Horizon 2020 and its predecessors. (Ed – a number of respondents likened the level of investment as being equivalent to another Research Council). They also point to the value of collaboration and mobility of researchers in maintaining the UK’s world-leading science and research efforts.
The generally supportive tone of many respondents is tempered by some areas for ‘further discussion’, in particular around regulatory frameworks and a perceived shift from EU directives (allowing flexibility to Member States in implementation) to more prescriptive EU regulations and the support available for UK businesses in order to help them engage with EU funding schemes. However, there is also some positivity about the way in which the UK has been able to play a key role in working to improve frameworks which have had the potential to have a negative effect in areas with the new clinical trials regulation and data protection regulation being offered as examples.
The take-home message appears to be things are not perfect, and (as is the case for all Member States) the UK will need to fully engage with its European partners to create an environment which reflects its needs, but that the UK’s scientific community see a genuine value to remaining in the EU. Respondents also anticipate potential threats to our international research standing, influence and access to much needed funding and collaboration in the event of Brexit.