Thursday, 13 July 2017

Brexit: and academic research: "The negotiations are tough - we cannot see the way forward."

The Vice-Chancellor of Exeter University is worried:

Exeter uni boss and Brexit leader says negotiators 'can't see way forward' one year on from vote

By WMN_PGoodwin  |  Posted: June 23, 2017

Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor at Exeter University and a leading player in the Brexit talks says negotiators 'cannot see a way forward'.
Sir Steve is chairman of the Universities UK policy group, which is negotiating the shape of relationships with European academics after Britain leaves the EU. He is worried about the status of EU nationals working in Higher Education, including 579 in Exeter - 201 of which have applied for citizenship. Concern comes as numbers of EU students at the Russell Group university dropped 10 per cent this year to 3,000.
Sir Steve, an expert in international relations who predicted Brexit would be a "disaster" for UK universities, says £1billion in EU research is also at stake as talks begin in Brussels. And worryingly, academics are struggling to find common ground which will keep lines of communication open and protect staff.
"The negotiations are tough - we cannot see the way forward," he told Devon Live. "We are trying to find a way that works for us and EU universities but at the moment, to be honest, we cannot see the clear picture of what's going to emerge afterwards."
Currently, 17 per cent (33,735) of academic staff at UK universities are from other EU countries and there are more than 125,000 EU students studying at UK universities. In terms of research collaboration, the UK is one of the main players in the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.
Last week, ahead of the formal start of Brexit talks this Monday, university leaders said that the UK's world-leading university sector should help shape the negotiations. A senior voice said Theresa May's failure to win a mandate for a so-called hard Brexit left cause for optimism among academics.
Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said it was "important that the voice of universities is heard clearly in the negotiations. The election result showed the need for an optimistic approach to Brexit that is outward-looking and internationally-minded.
"The UK has one of the strongest university sectors in the world. Our universities' international links are central to our impact and success. A thriving university sector, that drives local economic growth and builds global connections, will be key to the UK making a long-term success of Brexit. British universities are the antidote to the UK's Brexit challenges
Universities UK has published a set of five priorities for exit negotiations:
  1. Agree the residency and work rights for EU nationals currently working in the university sector, and their dependents, including full access to public services;
  2. Secure continued UK participation in the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 until the end of the programme;
  3. Negotiate UK access to, and influence over, the Framework Programme 9 – the next research and innovation programme – ensuring it maintains a focus on excellence;
  4. Secure continued access to Erasmus+ and the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions mobility programmes;
  5. Preserve and build on regulatory and standards equivalence with other EU Countries, including continued recognition of professional qualifications between the UK and EU member states.
Return to Devon Live

Exeter uni boss and Brexit leader says negotiators 'can't see way forward' one year on from vote | Devon Live

Yesterday, the former head of the WTO also had something to say about this:

UK warned not to cut science and research links with EU after Brexit

Former EU commissioner Pascal Lamy calls for post-Brexit framework in which the UK can remain in the European Research Area

Pascal Lamy
 Pascal Lamy called for the UK and EU to seek ‘full and continued engagement’ on scientific collaboration. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

The British government has been warned by a Brussels political veteran not to make the “mistake” of cutting itself adrift from EU scientific programmes after Brexit.
Pascal Lamy, a former EU commissioner and two-time head of the World Trade Organisation, said everyone would lose out if the UK chose to end European scientific ties.
“It would be a mistake for the UK to separate from the European Research Area,” he said in an interview with the Guardian and other European newspapers. “It would be a big mistake for both sides, so we have to be creative and find a new system.”
Lamy, who had an inside seat during the creation of the single market in the 1980s, called for the UK and EU to seek “full and continued engagement” on scientific collaboration, as he published a report on the future of EU research funding.
The European Research Area promotes the free movement of scientists, ideas and technology across the continent. Separately, the EU runs an €80bn (£70.2bn) research funding programme, which is supporting the work of nearly 6,500 UK-based scientists. British science has been among the biggest beneficiaries of EU research funds: between 2007-13, the UK paid €5.4bn (£4.7bn) to the research budget and received €8.8bn (£7.7bn) in grants.
Lamy said his recommendation for the UK to remain part of the European Research Area had been vetted by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.
Carlos Moedas, the European research commissioner, said Britain’s future scientific links with the EU would only be resolved through the Brexit negotiations. “Reality is kicking in and everyone is very sad about it – the European scientists and the UK scientists.”“It is probably an area where it is obvious that we need them and they need us,” he said, adding that devising a model of cooperation was not likely to be “as complex as fishing rights or standards on pesticide residues for flowers”.
Following the Brexit vote, the government promised to guarantee EU-funded projects, including science, until 2020 – the end of the current European funding cycle.
Science and research is one of many issues to be tackled during the second phase of negotiations, after the UK and EU have reached an outline deal on the main divorce issues – EU citizens, money and the Irish border. In theory, research should be one of the easier topics, as Theresa May has said she welcomes collaboration on science and research, while also hinting that payments into some EU programmes may be necessary.
Scientists are not only worried about the loss of grants, but restrictions on the free movement of people that could damage the UK as a hub for scientific collaboration.
The EU hopes to keep the UK close on science, as it seeks to be open to the world. Non-EU Switzerland, Norway and Israel are among 16 associate members of the EU research funding programme, while Lamy has suggested opening the door to Canada and Australia. Being an associate member of the EU’s next research programme would require contributions to the EU budget, while having no say on strategic decisions or the budget.
Senior academics told the House of Lords in early 2016 that associate membership would diminish the UK’s influence and could reduce the chances of British firms being able to exploit the commercial spin-offs from science.
The Lamy report, which calls for EU research funding to double to €160bn after 2020, underscores how the EU is debating its future without the UK. Lamy expressed confidence EU leaders would back his calls for extra research funds, despite a looming budget crunch caused by Brexit.
The EU faces a budget shortfall of €20bn a year once the UK leaves, while some net-contributing countries have already made clear they will not fill the gap.

UK warned not to cut science and research links with EU after Brexit | Politics | The Guardian

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