Impact on Research
The impact of Brexit on Trinity’s research collaboration with UK universities remains unclear. However, ratification of the proposed EU-UK deal (which is by no means certain) would provide some clarity for Irish universities about ongoing UK participation in Horizon 2020 and the Erasmus+ programme until their end dates.
There remains a risk that the Brexit negotiations could end without a deal being reached. If this happens, there could be uncertainty on whether any commitments agreed as part of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement on citizens’ rights and continued participation in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ still apply.
UK Universities, a lobby group for British universities has warned that any impact from a no deal Brexit could result in the following outcomes taking effect from late March:
- entering the UK could be treated as third country nationals, subject to non-EEA immigration rules and requirements
- the UK’s ability to participate in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ could cease, because there would be no legal obligation for the UK to pay any financial settlement on exit
- the continued mutual recognition of professional qualifications covered by the current EU Directive would be uncertain
To mitigate this, the British government has already committed to a number of stability measures beyond March 2019 including these technical notices.
The same government guarantee of EU funding also underwrites the UK’s allocation for structural and investment fund projects under the EU budget period to 2020, and UK managing authorities will continue to sign new projects until programme closure.
In July 2018, the UK government extended a commitment on EU funding to also underwrite the payments of all competitive grants to include centralised Erasmus+ actions (e.g. collaborative projects). On mobility specifically, the government has also agreed to extend its underwrite, although subject to agreement with the EU, until the end of 2020, as set out in the government’s Technical Notice on Erasmus+ in the UK if there’s no Brexit deal.
The Brexit White Paper states that the British government wants to establish a system on mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ) that covers the same range of professions as the existing MRPQ Directive.
Despite these attempts to mitigate the effects of Brexit, significant uncertainty remains. For instance, we do not know:
- whether UK universities could access replacements to mono-beneficiary parts of Horizon 2020, such as the European Research Council (ERC)
- whether a replacement to Erasmus+ would be made available to UK universities
- what would be the legal status of Erasmus+ participant and institutional partnerships between UK universities and their Erasmus+ partner universities