With the combined force of the Liberal Democrats, the Research and Innovation lobby, Europeans and many others, the UK Government has finally seen sense and rejoined the world's biggest research and development funding project. Now, UK researchers and scientists can apply for over £80bn of funds, raised by the collective economies of the EU and its associated third countries, as well as contributing and benefitting from the EU's copernicus prgramme in areas ranging from climate change to security. The Liberal Democrat European Group welcome this news and congratulate all those who have successfully lobbied the government to finally join the programme.
Whilst this positive outcome should be celebrated, there is room for more improvement. Notably, the UK government has decided not to join forces with our EU allies on Euratom R&D: a programme that falls under the Horizon Europe umbrella that supports research into nuclear energy production. As Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey supported investment into nuclear energy as a way not only to diversify our energy production, but also as a way to fight emissions. Despite these benefits, Nuclear energy still poses risks, and Euratom R&D provides a fantastic opportunity for innovation to minimise these risks, a missed opportunity for the UK. The Liberal Democrat European Group will continue to lobby the UK Government, principally through the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party, to join the Euratom R&D programme.
As the news was announced, Liberal Democrat MPs who had championed Horizon Europe membership, spoke out: Alastair Carmichael MP wrote of the "welcome news for researchers and for the UK", whilst Layla Moran MP, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, who spoke to LBC on the matter, pointed out "We should have never left the scheme and I'm glad the Govt has finally decided to re-join".
Looking forward, we will continue to push the current and any future UK government to rejoin other schemes, for instance Erasmus+, as we move towards our short-term milestone of rejoining the Single Market. The UK is strongest when it works closely with our natural European allies, sharing resources, knowledge and success.