Addressing the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee in first his appearance as a committee witness, Skidmore gave an overview of the actions the government is taking to mitigate the impact on participants in Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 in the event of a no-deal scenario.
““Until we have the vote, the EU commission is not actively engaging in any negotiations across any EU Commission related activity”
If the UK leaves the EU in 2019, it remains unclear how the UK will continue to participate in such programs.
But although the UK government has agreed to underwrite funding for projects under the current framework, in the event of a no-deal scenario, full association to its successor program has not yet been guaranteed and details of UK research funding post-Brexit are lacking.
Skidmore explained that while there have been “positive conversations” with EU commissioner Carlos Moedas about the Horizon 2020 program, the country is in a “Catch-22 situation” until the vote on prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been cast.
“Until we have the vote, the EU commission is not actively engaging in any negotiations across any EU Commission related activity,” Skidmore told committee chair Lord Jay of Ewelme.
Skidmore said he is a passionate supporter of the Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ programs, and underlined the absolute importance of ensuring commitment to supporting student and research exchange programs that the UK can be a world leader in.
“A post-Brexit vision of the UK is to be able to be a world leader in research and to be able to reach out globally and internationally to research communities,” he said.
“But we need to make sure that when it comes to funding streams… that we have contingency measures in place to work with the existing infrastructure but also what new potential infrastructure may need to be created.
“We need to make sure that if we are being affected by no-deal Brexit, we have contingency measures in place. “I’m not going to be the minister to let this slip,” Skidmore added.