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Aug 15, 2022
UK Set to Begin Formal Dispute With EU Over Science Programs
(Bloomberg) -- The UK is set to launch formal dispute proceedings against the European Union, accusing the bloc of breaking the post-Brexit trade deal by blocking its access to three international science programs.
The government will trigger “formal consultations” -- a mechanism under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement used to resolve disputes -- as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the government’s plans. The UK says the bloc is unfairly excluding it from the Copernicus earth observation project, the Horizon Europe research fund and the nuclear regulator Euratom.
The Foreign Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Though short of direct legal action, the move is an escalation after talks failed to find a breakthrough, and will likely inflame tensions a month after the EU ramped up its own legal action against the UK in a separate dispute.
That came in response to a plan by Boris Johnson’s government to override parts of the Brexit deal. The bloc has begun six infringement cases and has restarted a case filed in March 2021 over the UK’s implementation of agreed post-Brexit trade arrangements in Northern Ireland.
A number of post-Brexit negotiations, including for the UK’s participation in Horizon and an agreement on financial services, have stalled due to growing tensions over the UK’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol: in June, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss unveiled legislation that would tear up part of the divorce agreement.
Britain’s scientists have been frozen out of the EU’s £80-billion ($97 billion) scientific research program as collateral damage from the fraught relations, forcing the UK to draw-up agreements with other countries keen for a slice of the £15 billion that the government usually spends helping to fund Horizon.
Truss, who favors a hardline stance against the EU, is the favorite to become Britain’s new prime minister when Johnson steps down on Sept. 6.
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