Brexit: Lord Frost hits out at EU over Northern Ireland Protocol
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It comes as the UK has been temporarily banned from Horizon Europe over Brexit disputes around fishing licenses and the Northern Ireland Protocol. Marcos Sefcovic, European Commission Vice President warned that there will be “serious consequences” if Britain triggers Article 16, which Lord Frost has said is “very much on the table”. One of those consequences could be the permanent exclusion from Horizon Europe, the EU’s funding programme for research and innovation in science.
James Wilsdon, from the Research on Research Institute (RoRI) told Express.co.uk: “If Article 16 is invoked, I would think that it would take our association with the project off the table entirely.
“In terms of where the science piece of this sits, clearly the Commission has been very explicit that they don’t see a resolution to the trade association agreement without a resolution of those bigger questions.”
Last week, Lord Frost said that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) that was included as part of the Brexit deal has not been violated by Britain, yet the UK has still been excluded from Horizon Europe despite being a feature of the TCA.
Lord Frost said: “We agreed we would participate in this in the TCA and we agreed to pay a contribution of £15billion over seven years.
“The TCA is clear, the UK shall participate and the relevant protocol shall be adopted..that is an obligation.
“If it became clear that the EU will not deliver that obligation – and it has not done so far – we will regard them as in breach of Article 710 of the TCA.”
Lord Frost faces questions in the House of Lords today about the Northern Ireland Protocol ahead of a meeting with Mr Sefcovic tomorrow.
The Brexit minister said last Wednesday he thought a deal “can be done”, which could avoid Article 16 from being triggered.
But if a deal is not reached, Mr Wilsdon warned that Britain’s exclusion from Horizon Europe could deal a hammer blow to British science and even risks betraying Brexit votes.
He told Express.co.uk: “It would be a blow.
“Even in a post-Brexit context there’s plenty of countries outside of the EU who are members of Horizon, and the Government always said we would stay in the framework programmes even if we did Brexit.
“So in a sense, to not be in them is an unnecessary act of self-harm to British science.”
This could prove damaging to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has pledged to make Britain a “science superpower”.
Shadow Science Minister Chi Onwurah told Express.co.uk last month that Mr Johnson is not doing enough to meet that target.
She said: “It’s really hard to take the Government seriously on science.”
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Her comments came after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in the autumn budget that Britain’s target to spend £22billion a year annually on research and development funding was pushed back from 2024/25 to 2026/27.
Ms Onwurah said that Labour would do more to meet Mr Johnson’s superpower pledge.
She said: “Labour’s ambition and commitment, and Keir Starmer at the Labour conference spoke very strongly about making the UK a green, digital and science superpower, is boosting long term science sector public spending by three percent and not chopping and changing targets.
“We are doing more. Our plans would meet the post-Brexit ambition of being a science superpower whereas the Government’s plans are off-track.”
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