Today marks the publication of the Science and Technology Select Committee’s report into the implications of the vote to leave the European Union for scientific research. The report welcomes the government’s attempts to allay short-term concerns following the referendum, but argues that more substantive commitments are needed to protect UK science in the long term.
The committee states “…we are not convinced that the needs of science and research are at the heart of the Department for Exiting the European Union’s (DExEU) thinking and planning for Brexit. Science should have a strong voice as part of the negotiations.” To address this, the report argues, “DExEU needs a Chief Scientic Adviser urgently. The Government should also involve the interim Chair of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as a bridge between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and DExEU.”
The report then goes on to highlight five core areas – funding, people, collaboration, regulation, and facilities – which each must be considered during these Brexit negotiations. These must not be considered separately as items on a wish-list, but should be taken together as a coherent whole.
At Science is Vital, we are campaigning for the Government to increase its spending on R&D to at least 0.8% of GDP – the G8 average – to boost economic growth. We therefore welcome the committee’s conclusion that “the Government should now act to reduce uncertainty by setting out a vision for science. This should include commitments to raise science expenditure as a percentage of GDP.” We hope that this will be reflected by Chancellor Philip Hammond’s commitment to science in the upcoming Autumn Statement.
We also think, whether you voted to Leave or Remain, it’s essential that the UK retains access to EU funding programmes post-Brexit. These not only provide UK science with access to crucial EU funding, but enable collaboration between researchers across Europe.
Do you agree?
We’re going to be launching our new campaign about EU research very soon, and we’re going to need your help. We need to show that there’s strong political support for science from scientists and beyond, and we can only do that if we have plenty of supporters to help us make our case.
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