Director's update: UK and EU leaders must now agree a strong deal for science

As the UK begins life after Brexit, Wellcome's Director Jeremy Farrar sets out what the transition period and beyond could mean for research, and how we can help secure a good outcome from the next phase of the negotiations. 

Illustration showing two petri dishes with EU flag stars

Credit: Wellcome

The UK is no longer a member of the European Union, but we all appreciate that international collaboration in science and research is more important than ever. Knowledge and understanding do not stop at borders. During 2020, the UK and the EU must urgently build a new partnership that can realise research’s potential to contribute to a better world. 

The UK is now in a transition period, intended to last 11 months. For the science and research community, much of the relationship between the UK and EU will remain the same during this time. UK scientists, researchers and businesses can continue as before to participate in, bid for and lead projects in the framework programme Horizon 2020. We strongly encourage everyone to do so.

But I know that many researchers in this country will be wondering what the future of research looks like in the UK after the end of the year. I understand these anxieties, we live in very uncertain times. The UK, and indeed Wellcome, must now prepare for a new relationship with the EU beyond 2020. 

The UK and the EU are starting to set out their priorities for negotiations this year. For collaboration to flourish, a strong deal for science must be agreed as quickly as possible, with full participation in the EU’s next research and innovation framework programme, Horizon Europe, at its core. We’ve just published a new report that explores how such a deal could work. 

Whatever the negotiations may bring, Wellcome will keep helping researchers work together, wherever they are. For example, our grantholders can use their grants to cover visa and work permit costs for researchers whose salary is funded by the grant. And we allow researchers to move their grant to an organisation in any other country, as long as it is in the interests of the research and the people involved.

But this is so much bigger than Wellcome. That’s why we are working with organisations across Europe to show our support for a deal for science – and you can too, by signing the #DealForScience petition

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