The UK has left the European Union and the outline of a new UK-EU relationship has been agreed. This has implications for the people, funding and processes that shape the UK's medical research sector.
The Academy continues to work closely with the UK Government, EU partners and the wider research community to secure the best possible collaborations on biomedical research.
This must include safeguarding the people who conduct research and, importantly, the patients who benefit from advances in understanding and new treatments. It remains a high priority for the Academy to ensure that the voice of UK medical science is heard by all parties.
A selection of our activities are provided below.
How things stand
The Academy strongly welcomes UK participation in Horizon Europe, the EU's flagship research programme. Under the previous programme, Horizon 2020, the UK received over EUR 7bn in funding and was the third most active participating country.
There are, however, concerns about how UK will pay for participation. Previously the UK paid for Horizon 2020 through EU membership fees and spent a different pot of money on research and development priorities in the UK. There has been suggestion that the UK will now pay for Horizon Europe out of the domestic pot, which would decrease the money available to fund R&D projects and risk halting investments in research and innovation which, once lost, will take time to rebuild.
Our President wrote to the Chancellor with the Presidents of the other National Academies, ahead of the 2021 Budget, calling for the science budget to be protected from this outcome. You can download the letter on the right-hand side of this page.
The UK will associate to Horizon Europe as a ‘third country’, but UK participants should notice almost no difference to being part of a Member State. The main differences are at the level of governance, for example, how the UK pays its fee and the role it plays in certain committees.
UK participants can apply for almost all parts of Horizon Europe, including the first calls and any published before the adoption of the Horizon Europe Regulation, e.g. COVID-19 calls or ERC calls.
UK participants can take part in ERC, MSCA actions, the six ‘Global Challenges’ clusters and Missions, the partnerships, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and more.
UK participants cannot take part in the EIC Fund part of the EIC Accelerator– this is the only exclusion. UK participants can engage with the other parts of the EIC.
Read more in this Q&A on UK participation by the European Commission.
UK participation in Horizon 2020 had dropped since 2016, partly due to uncertainty about whether the UK would participate in Horizon Europe. Now particpation has been agreed it's important UK participants make full use of the programme and the opportunies for collaborations and funding it brings.
Find out more about how to be involved by reading this UK Government guidance on applying for funding.
The European Commission is due to make a decision over the coming weeks on whether it will grant the UK ‘data adequacy’ or not. This would mean that EU organizations can continue to transfer personal data to the U.K.
Without an agreement, there will be a significant effect on how health data is shared between the U.K. and the EU, including in situations like the current pandemic.
The Academy has supported the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM) in signing a statement alongside the NHS Confederation, EFPIA, the BMA and more.
The Academy has outlined our positions on Brexit in a number of published statements and letters.
Starting a new chapter for UK research
- Following the agreement of a Brexit deal, the Academy's President responded to the outline of the new UK-EU relationship and what needs to happen next.
- Immediately prior to the UK's departure from the EU, the Academy's President took a look forward and found reasons to be hopeful.
- The Academy also supported a statement alongside a total of 36 major domestic and European organisations asking governments and the European Commission to ensure a swift agreement on the UK’s full association to Horizon Europe before the end of 2020.
Letters to Government
- The President wrote to the Prime Minister on 18 December 2019 outlining the Academy's priorities for the next Parliament, including association to Horizon Europe.
Correspondence with Fellows
- The President wrote to all Fellows in January 2019 to outline the Academy's activities to ensure science and research is prioritised and protected as the UK leaves the EU.
- In March 2018, the President wrote to all Fellows outlining the Academy's priorities for Brexit and how we are working to ensure that these are prioritised during the negotitaions. This letter is also available as a blog on our website.
Statements on the impact of a "no-deal" Brexit on medical research
This report, jointly commissioned from the Technopolis Group by the UK’s four national academies – the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society – explores exactly where EU funding goes, what kind of activities it supports and what other investment it attracts.
This work also commissioned a separate set of stand alone case studies which supplement the report and provide additional detail on particular funding streams, activities and regional support.
This report, commissioned by the eight leading UK medical organisations, highlights how the UK’s contribution to research throughout the EU has fostered and strengthened scientific co-operation. The executive summary can be found online here.
A series of eight case studies detailing specific aspects of the UK’s contribution to EU science and health is also available.
This report commissioned by the Academy of Medical Sciences, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society, presents the findings of a survey of 1,286 of the UK’s leading researchers (consisting of 762 Fellows and 524 grant recipients across the four national academies) to find out about the importance of international collaboration and mobility.
The Academy has responded to numerous inquiries and consultations on the impact of Brexit on medical research and patients. A selection of these are provided below. All Academy submissions are available on our publications page
- The Academy submitted written evidence to the Sir Adrian Smith Review future on frameworks for international collaboration on research and innovation.
- The Academy submitted written evidence to the Science and Technology Select Committee's Brexit, Science and Innovation: Preparations for a "no-deal" inquiry.
- The Academy of Medical Sciences hosted a discussion meeting with Pascal Lamy, Chair of the High Level Group on maximising the impact of EU Research & Innovation Programmes.
- In February 2018, the Academy's Treasurer gave evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Brexit Summit. Professor Dell highlighted the impacts of leaving the EU on the regulation of biomedical research. The Academy's written response to this inquiry is available on our website.
- Submitting evidence to the Health Committee on Brexit – medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin inquiry and the BEIS Committee on Brexit and implications for UK business: Pharmaceuticals.
- Submitting evidence to the Commons Exiting the EU Select Committee inquiry into 'UK's negotiating objectives for withdrawal from EU inquiry' in January 2017.
- Jointly submitting evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee inquiry into 'Immigration' in January 2017.