Angela Rayner grilled on Labour's Brexit stance by radio caller
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A leading cancer expert has warned he may have to relocate his project due to uncertainties over future funding. UK ministers have pointed their fingers at “delays” on the Continent for EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s team to formalise the country’s relationship with Horizon Europe.
This is a funding programme with a budget of €95.5billion (£81billion).
The Government announced in January that the UK would associate to the scheme but talks have since stalled.
Dr Payam Gammage has a €2million (£1.7million) European Research Council (ERC) starting grant for work on mitochondrial DNA mutations in cancer but was considering moving overseas because his funding was in the evaluation stage.
He told the Herald on Sunday: “If there’s a suitable opening to take this project abroad, I will do that rather than go through UK Research and Innovation.
“With relatively little effort, you can get €150,000 in funding to translate your research into reality.”
Reports suggest around 115 grants offered through Horizon Europe were cancelled after talks on the UK’s involvement in the scheme stalled.
The ERC said 19 UK-based grant winners decided to leave the country ”following the researchers’ decisions to exercise their right to portability” and that a further 12 cases were “yet to be resolved”.
Dr Gammage warned that the current unpredictability could put researchers off coming to the UK in the first place.
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He highlighted his own struggles while working to attract people for his own project in Scotland.
The researcher, who works at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow, said: “I have been trying for the best part of a year now and I am getting almost no applications from people in EU states.”
The Government stressed, however, that if talks continue to stall it will introduce its own plans to entice researchers to the country.
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A spokesperson said: “We recognise the EU’s delays to formalising the UK’s association to Horizon Europe have led to uncertainty for researchers, businesses and innovators based in the UK.
“This is why we have guaranteed funding for eligible, successful applicants to Horizon Europe who are expected to sign grant agreements by December 2022.”
The cause is, however, likely to be used by Scottish nationalists as an argument for Scotland to split itself from the rest of the UK and apply to rejoin the Brussels bloc.
Nicola Sturgeon last month drew scorn on the UK Government over its approach to Horizon Europe.
The First Minister said: “It’s… very likely that it will end discussions across a range of… important issues including access for our scientists and researchers to the EU’s Horizon programme.”
She is working to give Scots a second referendum on Scotland’s future in October next year.
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