30. März 2018
The Wellcome Trust, the UK's largest biomedical research charity, has published a report containing Wellcome's recommendations from the Future Partnership Project.
The report sets out Wellcome's view on the possible structure of a new UK-EU research partnership following the UK's departure from the EU and sets out suggestions for how this could be delivered.
The report highlights the importance of finding a way for the UK and EU to maintain a close partnership on research and innovation after Brexit. In particular, it sets out recommendations in three main areas that Wellcome suggests need to be addressed in Brexit negotiations:
As an EU Member State, the UK is currently an active participant in the EU Framework Programmes. These funding programmes are the EU’s primary funding mechanism for supporting collaborative, transnational research and development in the European Research Area, which is based on the EU internal market.
Since the UK will not be a Member State after Brexit, it will no longer be an automatic participant in the EU Framework Programmes. However, Wellcome considers that the UK's continued participation in the EU Framework Programmes and in other EU research funding initiatives is important and makes the following recommendations in this regard:
Contributors to the Future Partnership Project consultation emphasised the importance of shared regulatory standards to maintain the ability for UK researchers to be able to collaborate easily with researchers in other countries without significant additional cost.
The report suggests that the UK and the EU share common values which form the basis of their approach to the regulation of scientific research. It also emphasises the instrumental contribution that the UK has made to EU medicines legislation and regulation via the MHRA.
The key recommendations are:
According to the report, the vast majority of those who participated in the Future Partnership Project stressed the need for easy mobility for researchers between the EEA and the UK after Brexit. Evidence suggests that publications derived from collaborative research have greater impact and that over half of the UK's collaborative papers are with EU partners.
Wellcome therefore recommends that:
The Wellcome report stresses the importance of international collaboration in order for the UK to achieve continued success in research and innovation, in particular ensuring that the UK maintains a close relationship with the EU after Brexit. This view appears to be shared by the government which has stated its intention to seek a far-reaching science and innovation agreement with the EU after Brexit.
However, implementation of some of the specific recommendations in the Wellcome report in relation to funding and medicines regulation may require the UK to adopt EU law after Brexit and involve a continuing role for the CJEU, both of which are likely to prove controversial.
Ensuring the free movement of researchers may also be challenging in light of the UK government's current position which appears to be that free movement of workers will cease after the UK's departure from the EU, or following the end of any transition period agreed with the EU.
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von Andrew Payne
von Andrew Payne
von Andrew Payne