UK-EU relationship

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.

Taking part

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.

Key contacts

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