New Deal on the Horizon

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Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology, July 2023, Volume 47, Issue 7

The UK and EU have negotiated a new draft deal for Britain to re-join the Horizon Europe research programme.

Since 2020 and the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, Britain has been locked out of the Horizon research programme, despite agreements being in place for associate membership, as arguments over the Northern Ireland protocol persisted. However, in March 2023, after the implementation of the Windsor framework, talks between the UK and EU about the association with the programme resumed, culminating in reports of a draft deal being reached on 5 July (1).

This draft deal is reportedly now under consideration by the UK’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak (1). Sunak is being urged to finalise the deal to ensure the scientific community in the UK can regain the advantages of the Horizon programme, such as funding and leading multi-country research consortia.

“Outside Horizon Europe, the UK is in real danger of ceding our hard-won position in the global R&D hierarchy and becoming less attractive as a research partner and less attractive for foreign direct investment,” stressed Andy Slaughter, member of parliament for Hammersmith in a parliamentary debate on the topic of Horizon Europe (2). “As part of Horizon Europe, the UK can influence the future direction of billions of pounds worth of research investment to more closely align with UK strategic priorities.”

Cost has been a factor delaying the draft deal. Although not required to pay participation fees for the two missed years, the UK government has requested further discounts due to the fact that researchers and businesses in the country have been weakened when compared with EU counterparts from missing out on collaborative opportunities. Additionally, the UK government have pushed back on the matter of how much research funding the country will receive in return for its input into the programme (3).


Officially, talks are still ongoing with no confirmed deal struck yet—at the time of writing—so, for now, a return to a closer scientific research relationship between the UK and the EU remains just out of reach on the horizon.


1. Gallardo, C. Britain and EU Agree Draft Horizon Deal. Politico, 5 July 2023.
2. UK Parliament. Research and Development Funding and Horizon Europe. Parliamentary Debate, 18 April 2023.
3. Ghosh, P. Horizon Research Deal with EU Awaits Sunak’s Signature. BBC News, 6 July 2023.

About the author

Felicity Thomas is the European/senior editor for Pharmaceutical Technology Group.

Article details

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Vol. 35, No. 6
June 2023
Page: 6


When referring to this article, please cite it as Thomas, F. The Swiss Appeal. Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 2023 35 (6) 6.