A new Brexit feud has erupted with Brussels after David Frost accused the EU of being on the verge of violating the trade deal struck last Christmas.
He said the UK was “very concerned” that Brussels is delaying the ratification of the UK’s participation in the € 80 billion (£ 67 billion) Horizon Europe research program, which would cost British scientists their place in pan-European research programs.
Lord Frost said the UK had “not done much” but patience was running out.
“It’s not a very happy place,” he said. “Actually, we’re getting pretty worried about it. There is an obligation in article 710 of the trade and cooperation agreement to finalize our participation. He uses the word “must”. It is an obligation. It would obviously be a violation of the Treaty if the EU does not respect this obligation. “
The UK pledged to fund the program to the tune of £ 2bn per year last December, but this funding is currently not being disbursed as UK scientists cannot formally participate in the program despite the historic leadership many projects.
Earlier Monday, the House of Commons European Oversight Committee suggested the delay in ratifying that part of the trade deal was punishment for the dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol.
Frost said he repeatedly asked his EU counterpart, Maroš Šefčovič, why there was a delay when the accession of other countries, including Norway and Iceland, had already been ratified. Although he could “guess” the reason, he did not get an answer, he told MPs.
The scientific sector fought hard to retain membership in the Horizon Europe program last year, arguing that it was not just funding but collaboration with peers across Europe that was important.
Being part of the seven-year program would also help the UK maintain a thriving science ecosystem supporting jobs in universities and laboratories and acting as a magnet for foreign talent.
A scientist from the University of Ulster told The Guardian he was on suspense over a £ 7million bid to fund a project on the impact of Covid on children’s mental health and adolescents.
German Ambassador to London Andreas Michaelis has warned that Berlin will lose confidence in the UK if its negotiators reject the role of the European Court of Justice in arbitrating the Northern Ireland Protocol.
He said that Germany had invested a lot of political capital to persuade the European Commission to change its approach to the protocol and that the result was “the most flexible interpretation of an agreement that we signed on the European side”.
He said: “If these proposals will not serve as a basis for the negotiation of a working protocol but will be rejected by designating for example the European Court of Justice, we all know on all sides that this will have a very important impact on trust in the relationship. “
He said the commission has made a huge effort to reduce 50% of the paperwork and 80% of the obstacles.