EU-UK Relationship

Our regularly updated factsheet on UK participation in EU programmes for research, innovation and space answers some of the most common questions on this topic, both with the UK and international audiences in mind.

It provides the latest understanding and facts on UK participation in Horizon Europe, Copernicus and other EU funding schemes. You are welcome to share this factsheet widely, within your institutions and with your European and international partners.

UK association to Horizon Europe and Copernicus

On 7 September 2023, the European Commission and the UK Government announced that they have reached an agreement on the association of the UK to Horizon Europe and Copernicus from 1 January 2024.

On 4 December 2023, the association agreement was adopted in the form of a protocol to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement by the EU-UK Specialised Committee on Participation in EU Programmes.

UK organisations can participate in Horizon Europe calls for proposals on the same terms as institutions from other Associated Countries, including leading consortia and receiving EU funding, from the 2024 Work Programme and onwards. This includes any 2024 calls that opened/closed last year.

Participation in Copernicus, the EU Earth Observation programme, enables the UK’s access to a state-of-the-art capacity to monitor the Earth and to its services, as well as provide the UK research community with access to unique data, which is often required on Horizon Europe projects.

The UK Government has published a helpful explainer document, which includes clarifications on many issues related to the UK association to both programmes.

On 4 December 2023, the agreement was adopted in the form of a protocol to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement by the EU-UK Specialised Committee on Participation in EU Programmes.

Transitional arrangements for ongoing projects and applications to 2023 Horizon Europe calls for proposals

UK applicants to calls in 2021, 2022, and 2023 Work Programmes remain fully eligible for evaluation by the EU and, if successful, for funding through the UK Horizon Guarantee.

UK participants who have received a UKRI grant under the Horizon Guarantee will remain on it for the lifetime of the project, subject to UKRI’s bespoke terms and conditions.

Applicants for the remaining 2023 Work Programme calls should continue to apply to the EU directly as beneficiaries and, if successful, will receive funding from the UK Government through the Guarantee.

These applicants will not be able to lead consortia or count towards the minimum number of countries required to meet eligibility rules for applications for transnational projects.

The Guarantee has been extended to cover all remaining Horizon Europe grant calls that are funded under Work Programme 2023 irrespective of the call closing or grant signature date.

Work Programme 2023 calls which do not close until next year will still be covered by the Guarantee.

In order to be eligible for the UK Guarantee, UK applicants must continue to apply for funding from the EU as beneficiaries and not as Associated Partners.

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) has published detailed guidance and instructions on how to apply.

Identifying which Work Programme a call belongs to

Every Horizon call for proposals has a call identification (ID) number, which sets out which programme year it belongs to. This number is set out clearly for each call in the Work Programme and on the EU’s Funding and Tenders Portal.

If the call ID includes ‘2023,’ the call is part of the 2023 Work Programme and be covered by the UK Horizon Guarantee. If the call ID includes ‘2024,’ the call will be part of the 2024 Work Programme.

UKRO webinar on grant preparation for 2023 projects with UK organisations

Our webinar on the Grant Agreement Preparation (GAP) phase for projects with UK participants selected under the Horizon Europe calls was held on 22 September 2022.

The main aim of the session was to share with participants the experiences of the GAP process under the first waves of Horizon Europe calls – while the UK association is delayed – to help prospective successful applicants better prepare for the process in the future.

The event was open to research managers from non-UK institutions coordinating successful projects with the UK participants, who are involved in the GAP process.

The video recording and presentation slides are now openly available:

Guidance documentation on UK association

In response to the initial questions raised by UKRO subscribers and stakeholders across the community DSIT has published a helpful explainer document, which includes useful clarifications on many issues related to UK association to both programmes.

This document will continue to be updated to address any new questions on association. We encourage you to share this and the other official documents on UK association widely with your networks:

UK participation in other EU programmes

The UK is considered a non-associated third country in all other EU programmes.

This includes Erasmus+, Euratom, Digital Europe, the Single Market Programme, LIFE, Creative Europe, EU4Health, the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme, the European Defence Fund and many others. The full list of EU funding programmes is available here.

UK organisations may participate in calls for proposals under these programmes only if the relevant programme’s legal basis allows for this. The call documents will normally list the countries, which are eligible to participate in projects (and to receive funding).

In most cases, under the so-called ‘corporate approach’ to managing EU programmes, organisations from third countries such as the UK can participate in EU projects as Associated Partners without receiving EU funding, which means they would need to cover their own costs. Furthermore, it is also normally possible for such organisations to participate as other types of third parties such as subcontractors, subject to the standard rules of the programme.

Participation of UK organisations in projects funded by these programmes can vary from call to call, so it is important to always consult the relevant call documents, as some calls under Digital Europe, the European Defence Fund and other programmes can be restricted.

Please note that there are currently no dedicated funding mechanisms in the UK to support UK-based organisations participating in these EU programmes as Associated Partners.

UK participation in Horizon 2020

The Withdrawal Agreement means that the UK can continue to participate in EU programmes, including Horizon 2020, financed by the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework until their closure (this means for the lifetime of grants).

UK participants will continue to receive EU grant funding for the lifetime of individual Horizon 2020 projects, including projects finishing after the transition period concludes at the end of 2020. UK scientists, researchers and businesses can continue to participate in and lead Horizon 2020 projects and apply for Horizon 2020 grant funding.

You can find more information about continued UK participation in EU-funded programmes including Horizon 2020 on the UKRI website.

UKRO updates on EU-UK relationship

UKRO also provides regular updates on the latest developments related to the relationship between the UK and the EU in dedicated articles for staff at subscribing organisations. If you are a subscriber, you can view these updates in our news section.

Last updated: 7 February 2024

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